On Sports

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

So I’m reading my Boston Globe sports page this a.m. when I spied Chad Finn’s sports media column and I almost tossed up in my Cheerios: CSN is cutting old friend and great baseball analyst Sean McAdam, along with veteran Boston sports guru Bob Neumeier.

While coaches Jim Fleming of the University of Rhode Island and Phil Estes of Brown shop for football talent these days, Bryant athletics director Bill Smith searches for a head coach to replace Marty Fine, who resigned on Dec. 1 “to pursue other opportunities.”

Expectations are like sand castles at Scarborough Beach. Threatened by waves and tides, here now but probably gone later. And then rebuilt.

So it is with University of Rhode Island and Providence College basketball this season. The Rams started with great expectations based on the return of injured stars E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin. A Top 25 ranking raised expectations higher. Then a three-point loss at Valparaiso  and a heartbreaking three-point loss to Providence at the sold-out Dunkin’ Donuts Center Saturday dashed those expectations. Good-bye Top 25.

November 3, 2016

Dear Chicago,               

You finally did it! After 108 years of failure, disappointment and heartache, you finally did it! You are World Series Champions!

Congratulations! No, make that CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Are you surprised the Indians eliminated the Red Sox in their best-of-five American League Division Series? I’m not. Swept? Yes. Eliminated? No, and here’s why.

After that stirring 11-game winning streak September 15-25, the Red Sox lost eight of their next nine games, five of six at the end of the regular season. They dropped three in New York two of three at home during David Ortiz Weekend and then two in Cleveland in the ALDS and the 4-3 finale Monday night at Fenway Park.

Phil Estes remembers his first visit to Meade Stadium on the University of Rhode Island campus. The year was 1977, he was a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, and he played guard for the Wildcats football team, the defending Yankee Conference champion.

Dick Ernst was as Rhode Island as Del’s Lemonade, Federal Hill and the Big Blue Bug. Cranston-born and Cranston-bred, he accomplished much in life, almost all of it right here in the Ocean State.

Dick died this week at his home in Cranston. He had turned 78 on Sept. 4. His passing shocked me because even though he had slowed a bit in recent years, I still thought of him as the passionate hockey player always searching for a frozen pond, the gritty tennis player wearing down opponents with his stubborn baseline game, and the coach ever in search of a team.

September has turned into the sweetest month this year, and here’s why.

THE RED SOX

Jared Donaldson, the kid from Chepachet who always wanted to play professional tennis, is in the third round of the U.S. Open in New York. Wait a minute. A Rhode Islander in the main draw of the U.S. Open? An Ocean Stater in the same tournament as No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 2 Andy Murray, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, No. 4 Rafael Nadal and the rest of the best tennis players in the world? Yes! And he’s in the third round? Yes, again.

Chris Marerro
MiLB Pawtucket Red Sox

Chris Marrero, the Pawtucket Red Sox star, has been named to the 2016 post-season International League All-Star Team, the team announced today.

Marrero, 28, is leading the team in almost every offensive category and is among the league leaders as well. In 124 games this season, he is hitting .287 with 23 home runs and 69 Runs Batted In. He leads the International League with 234 total bases and is first in extra base hits with 52, and has a .501 slugging percentage, second in the league.

The Rio Olympics are history, its torch extinguished Sunday night amid an explosion of color and sound befitting the conclusion of this quadrennial spectacle celebrating athletic prowess and human spirit. Like you, I watched on television, as I had from time to time during the two weeks or so of competition. Like you, I watched Michael Phelps swim into Olympics history; gymnast Simone Biles dazzle with her smile and her stunning array of leaps, twists and tumbles, and Usain Bolt dash to gold for the third straight Olympiad.

What is the cost of admission to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, Minn.? For you and me, $8. For Mount St. Charles Academy coach Bill Belisle, 990 victories, 32 state championships, 20-plus players drafted by NHL teams and two Mounties picked first overall in the NHL Draft.

Belisle, having more victories and more consecutive state championships (28) than any coach in U.S. hockey history, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with former American star Craig Janney and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey championship team. The date and location will be announced later this month.

If you played high-school baseball in Rhode Island from the 1950s to the early 2000s, Dick Lee probably umpired one of your games. If you ran cross-country for Coventry High School in the 1950s, Dick Lee probably coached your team. If you played field hockey or girls lacrosse in the 1980s and 1990s, Dick Lee probably covered one of your games. And if you read The Providence Journal sports pages during those two decades, you saw Dick Lee’s byline over reports of just about every sport Rhode Island high-school kids play.

Never say never, they teach you in the journalism business.

But there are exceptions to every rule, right?

So, we will never see the likes of Muhammad Ali again. Never. Ever. Trust me.

Some stories just refuse to go away. In Rhode Island we have corruption in the State House and Providence City Hall. In Sports World we have deflategate, concussions, performance enhancing drugs and sexual assault. They lie dormant for a while but then return like weeds, mosquitos and humidity.

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