On Sports

Former Providence Journal sports writer Mike Szostak blogs regularly with news and analysis about sports in Rhode Island.

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:


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.

The University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team continues to shine. In what has become a special season, the Dan Hurley-coached Rams are drawing national attention, always a plus in the run up to the NCAA tournament and March Madness.

URI is ranked 18th nationally in the Associated Press weekly poll and 19th in the USA Today Coaches poll. That puts Rhody on top of such perennial college basketball royalty as North Carolina (22nd in AP) and Kentucky (24th in AP).

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.


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.

John Bender

The Patriots have brought home more than their share of wins for the ages, but Sunday night's Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles wasn't one of them.

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.

College football in Rhode Island ended Saturday with Brown losing at Columbia, 24-6, and finishing 2-8, its worst season in more than a decade; URI losing at Towson, 29-10, and concluding a 3-8 season, its 16th consecutive losing campaign, and Bryant pulling out a 38-29 victory over Duquesne, giving rookie head coach James Perry a 6-5 record.

Winning a division title in Major League Baseball is not good enough these days. Just ask John Farrell, until recently manager of the Boston Red Sox, or Dusty Baker, the former manager of the Washington Nationals.

Winning a division series and reaching the seventh game of the American League Championship Series is not good enough, either. Just ask Joe Girardi, until Thursday the manager of the New York Yankees. His downfall? The Houston Astros defeated the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS.