Sunday, December 19, 2010

Watching The Wheel(ers) Go 'Round

Add Dan Wheeler to the ever-growing Boston Red Sox bullpen. For the last three plus years he has played for the Tampa Bay Rays. Here's what one MLB scout said about him...

“He’s a strike thrower. He can throw five different pitches. His split was very effective against lefthanded hitters last year and he can throw to righthanders effectively. He’s got a natural cutter. He can get himself in trouble if he’s up in the zone, but he’s not afraid to pound hitters inside. He’s a natural leader who really knows that division. Battle-tested. I’m sure he’ll be a popular kid on that team and in that bullpen.’’

Wheeler made 64 appearances last season, and was always a reliable member of Joe Maddon’s staff. While he was used mostly against righthanded batters (.222 average), lefties hit only .154 against him. Theo Epstein is sure doing his job to shore up the spots where the Red Sox need that assistance. Papelbon and Bard will lead this cast of characters who specialize at saving ball games through the 2011 baseball season. Good job, Theo.

Today is game day here in all of Connecticut and for very many immersed in the NCAA basketball world. The University of Connecticut women's national championship Huskies have won 87 (!!) straight hoop games and today at Madison Square Garden in New York City, they'll try to make it 88. Does that number ring a bell? It should. The great UCLA men's basketball coach, John Wooden, guided his team to 88 straight victories in the early seventies. It was (and still is) a record that "could not be broken, much less approached." Don't tell that to UCONN coach Geno Auriemma, who is also skipper of the USA National team that will compete in 2012. Everybody will know his face come then. So here we are...87 straight with one to tie today and then if they do, the tiebreaker will be Tuesday evening in Hartford, Connecticut. The TV schedule (by ESPN) shows that you can find today's game at 2:30 pm EST on ESPNU, not the most viewed ESPN channel. If UCONN wins this afternoon, ESPN 2 is pulling out all the stops Tuesday at 7pm, including a sports desk right inside the XL Center. But it's one game at a time and the 8-1 Ohio State Buckeyes are good. Hey, all those naysayers who ask me if UCONN will cakewalk through their season because of a weak schedule couldn't be MORE wrong. UCONN's RPI is as tough as it gets. So go Huskies. That's all I can say. This isn't a MUST game but...but...wouldn't it be nice? Yeah.

Thanks for stopping in and I hope your Sunday will be a great one. Click on this post's title for more on the big basketball game from SI and as always, BE WELL. Be careful out there if you're on the roads. I'll be back with the latest at the earliest.

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