On Sports

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

  Words Unlimited, Rhode Island’s organization of sports writers, sportscasters and sports publicists, will honor 14 individuals and three teams for their 2014 accomplishments, or their careers, at its 69th Annual Sports Awards Banquet on Sunday at the West Valley Inn in West Warwick.

Bill Reynolds, a Providence Journal award-winning columnist since 1984 and author of 12 books, will be inducted into WU’s Hall of Fame. His Saturday column, For What It’s Worth, is must reading for Rhode Islanders.

  Thirty-five years later, I still get chills, a lump in my throat and, yes, a sentimental tear when I remember Feb. 22, 1980. For on that Friday in Lake Placid, N.Y., an underdog team of college kids from Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin shocked the best hockey team in the world.

United States 4, Soviet Union 3.

Aaron Read RIPR

  Winning, like savoring a single malt Scotch, is an acquired taste. It takes time, 12 years in some cases. It takes work and patience and luck. And just as one must learn to sip that single malt, neat or on ice, one must learn how to win. Providence College and the University of Rhode Island are proof.


Absolutely unbelievable!

No other word aptly describes the New England Patriots 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks Sunday night in Super Bowl XLIX.

Unbelievable that Patriot Malcolm Butler, an undrafted rookie free agent from that college football factory West Alabama, intercepted a pass at the goal line with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

Aaron Read RIPR

  We all know that Tom Brady grew up in San Mateo, Calif., played football at Serra High and Michigan, started in five Super Bowls and won three.  We also know he will start his sixth Super Bowl Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

Aaron Read RIPR

  Snowmageddon 2015 will melt into history in a week or so. Deflategate unfortunately, will take a bit longer.  So let’s turn our attention to Super Bowl XLIX, or Super Bowl 49 for those of you who slept through Roman Numerals in elementary school.

Specifically, let’s turn our attention to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady because a long time will pass before we see another like him.

Deflategate is a migraine for the National Football League and an embarrassment for the New England Patriots, but for the nation’s sports media, it’s a gift. A Big,Beautiful, Wrapped Present.  Think Christmas morning, and the largest box under the tree is labeled: To Reporters, From The Patriots.

That’s Deflategate, the ball controversy swirling about the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots. Did the Patriots deflate game balls last Sunday, possibly making it easier for quarterback Tom Brady to throw and tight end Rob Gronkowski to catch in the rain? If they didn’t, who did?

The U.S. Olympic Committee has selected Boston as its official bid city for the 2024 Olympics. Good for Boston, I say, and the rest of New England.

When Oregon and Florida State kick off the Rose Bowl at 5 p.m. today, I want you to think of Brown University football.

Yes, Brown football, because 99 years ago today Brown played in the first official Rose Bowl against Washington State College of Pullman, Wash.  Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true.

The real college football bowl season begins today, New Year’s Eve, with the Orange Bowl, followed on New Year’s Day by the Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl. Please do not try to convince me that the bowl season began on Dec. 20. Many of the 24 games played through Tuesday night were little more than ESPN programming vehicles.

With less than a week to go before we welcome 2015, it’s time to reflect upon the stories that informed, entertained and intrigued us most during 2014. These are the sports stories that grabbed my attention.

Let’s hear it for the University of Rhode Island basketball team.

The WOMEN’S team.

Heading home for Christmas, the rampaging Rams are 8-3, already one victory better than their 2014 final record.  After losing three of their first four games, they have won seven in a row for the first time since 1984. They have defeated Brown, Bryant and Providence College for the mythical Division I state championship.

December’s chill has not slowed the facelift of the historic Newport Casino.  Workers bundled in overalls and jackets, and hoodies and hard hats, have wrapped the steel skeleton of the new indoor tennis facility at the corner of Memorial Drive and Freebody Street and have begun installing the metal roof. The structure replaces a three-court building that opened in 1974.

Aaron Read RIPR

Providence College’s soccer season of firsts and mosts continues Friday night when the Friars play UCLA in the semifinals of the NCAA men’s tournament, known as the College Cup.

Providence (16-4-2) and UCLA (13-4-5) will meet for the first time. This is PC’s first trip to college soccer’s Final Four; UCLA is making its 14th College Cup appearance. The Bruins have won four national championships. UCLA is the No. 2 seed, Providence No. 11.

When I read of the achievements of young people like Sarah Andrews and Matt Salit, I shake my head and wonder how they do all that they do. Athletes, scholars, community volunteers, they approach every ask with laser focus. They are amazing.

When I read of their achievements, I also feel confident about the future of our nation.