Mike Szostak

Sports Blogger

Mike Szostak covered sports for The Providence Journal for 36 years until retiring in 2013. His career highlights included five Winter Olympics from Lake Placid to Nagano and 17 seasons covering the Boston Celtics. His beats  also included tennis, skiing and college sports, especially Brown and URI football.

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Gil Santos, 1938-2018

Apr 21, 2018

Another beloved member of the New England sports media has left us.

Gil Santos, whose short, stocky stature belied his standing as a giant among the region’s sportscasters, died on Thursday. The “Voice of the Patriots” for 36 years was more Patriot than many of the players he described. Born on Patriots Day in 1938, married on Patriots Day in 1961, he died on Patriots Day in 2018. 

They say never say never in sports, and it’s good advice.  Remember how we said the Patriots would never come back from 25 points down and win Super Bowl LI? How did that turn out? Patriots 34, Falcons 28 (OT), the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

Well, with the 122ndrunning of the Boston Marathon on Monday, I write with complete confidence that Rhode Island runners winning five times in nine years will never happen again.

Never.

Final Fours are finished, but the basketball beat goes on.

In Boston, it’s a downbeat. Point guard Kyrie Irving, one of the NBA’s most dynamic players, is out for the balance of the season due to an infection in his already surgically repaired left knee. On Saturay he had two screws removed from his kneecap that were inserted in 2015 after he fractured the kneecap in the NBA Finals. Two weeks ago he had had a tension wire removed to alleviate pain in his knee. 

In the end, it’s almost always about money, isn’t it? A bigger paycheck, extra cash for the kids college fund, the retirement account, the vacation to Disney World.

How fortunate are we Rhode Islanders to have had two teams in the NCAA men's basketball tournament?

Most fortunate, I’d say, considering the other five New England states have a grand total of zero teams in the tournament.

The hoop gods, also known as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament selection committee, blessed the University of Rhode Island and Providence College Sunday with berths in the lucrative NCAA tournament, also known as March Madness.

Rhode Island’s best sports performers of 2017 will receive their proper recognition during the 72nd Annual Words Unlimited Sports Awards Banquet Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Cranston Country Club. Words Unlimited is the state’s organization of sports writers, broadcaster and publicists.

Here are the honorees:

TEAM OF THE YEAR

The University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team won the Atlantic 10 tournament, made the NCAA tournament for the first time in 19 years, beat Creighton in the first round, lost to Oregon in the second round and finished 25-10. 

Black history month ends today, which leaves me just a few hours to celebrate the athletic achievements and lives of black Rhode Islanders I have known since I moved here right out of college in 1972.

Women carried the United States in the Winter Olympics that ended Sunday. They won 12 of America’s 23 medals and five of Team USA’s nine gold.

You go, girl? I’ll say. From 17-year-old snowboarder Chloe Kim to 28-year-old hockey player Hillary Knight to 35-year-old cross-country skier Kikkan Randall, America’s women entertained us with their skill, thrilled us with their daring and brought tears to our eyes with their refuse-to-quit grit.

I hope the U.S. Olympic Committee keeps this in mind when it doles out training dollars between now and Beijing in 2022.

How does a girl from Los Angeles prepare for a spot on the U.S. Women’s Bobsled Team? By playing volleyball at Brown, of course.

Four Olympics blogs as the end of the longest Winter Games in history comes into view:

Twenty years ago, the United States defeated Canada, 3-1, for the first women’s ice hockey gold medal in Olympics history. The scene on the ice that day wasn’t quite Lake Placid in 1980, but it was special nonetheless.

What’s the next headline for the New England Patriots? Belichick Retires? Kraft Sells Pats? Brady Inks New Pact? Gronk: I’ve Had Enough?

Whew! What a week for the Patriots, and it’s still only Thursday. Let’s review.

Sunday

Eagles backup QB Nick Foles picks apart Pats pathetic defense for 373 yards and three touchdowns, leads Philadelphia to a 41-33 victory over the Patriots and is the MVP of Super Bowl LII. Forty-year-old Tom Brady, a backup when he won the first of his five Super Bowls in 2002, throws for 505 yards and three touchdowns.

Jesse Costa/WBUR

It’s been the talk of New England for weeks now. Will the Pats blow out the Eagles in the Super Bowl? Or will the Eagles run away with this one?  Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon put that question to sports blogger Mike Szostak.

His take?

This will be a close game. There's no doubt about it. Both teams have strengths, and a few weaknesses, but they both had to prove themselves to get this far. 

This is getting ridiculous. Another Comeback For The Ages. If the New England Patriots keep this up, they’re going to run out of ages.

George Graboys was my hero, not because during his 23 years as chairman, chief executive and president he managed Citizens to the big leagues of Rhode Island banking, and not because as chairman of the Rhode Island Foundation and a founder of the Rhode Island Children’s Crusade he enhanced the lives of the underserved in our state.

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