By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Is there a better time to be a sports fan than right now?

I don't mean in 2012, I mean this time of year every year.

Just look what's on our plate in the next week and a half:

If you like college hoops, it's impossible to beat Final Four weekend. With a regular season that's pretty much forgettable, then a wild tournament that's unforgettable, having it wrap up over a meager 48 hours is just outstanding. Even if you don't care about college basketball, you pay enough attention to throw your two cents in when you hear somebody talk about it. Few sporting events have that kind of pull.

(This is especially true if you live in Kentucky. Having Louisville play Kentucky, with the winner getting a crack at the national title and the loser going home with their heads hung, is such a delicious morsel that will be savored and seared into the collective psyche of the Bluegrass faithful forever).

To get a little off topic for a second, remember when the NCAA Tournament held a third-place consolation game before the title game? That game never failed to be lame. Two teams that wanted to be anywhere else vying for the right to claim "We're number three" never gave much of an effort and couldn't wait to exit the arena.

All right, back on topic.

Monday's title game is usually riveting. If you need one of the teams to win so you can collect the office pool winnings, it makes it even better.

And once we take a breath from a month's worth of wild college basketball, it's time to hear the roars at Augusta.

If there's a prettier sight than the emerald green fairways and azaleas at The Masters, please let me know.

The Masters is familiar and familiar is grand.

Golf has its U.S. Open and British Open, but do they really stick with us? Undoubtedly, we remember the big moments and the great shots from these events, but how often do we recall the golf course it happened on?

Not very.

That's not the case at Augusta. We know what the holes look like, we all would like to take a crack at Amen Corner, we cringe when we think how difficult the drive on No. 18 must be late on Sunday afternoon.

That's what makes it must-watch TV. And I haven't even mentioned the golfers who make it all come alive.

We'll watch no matter who is in contention for the green jacket. How many sporting events can you say that about?

(By the way, is there a better "trophy" in sports than the green jacket? Nope. Can you tell the difference between the U.S. Open golf trophy and the U.S. Open tennis trophy? I can't, either. Just another thing that makes The Masters so special).

Of course, right in the middle of The Masters, we have the start of baseball season.

Books, lots of books, have been written about how Opening Day means rebirth and how it's a rite of spring. Not so many books have been about Opening Day in the NFL. We look forward to both, but football doesn't make us wax nostalgic like baseball does.

If your team wins on Opening Day, it's a wonderful feeling. The pennant is in reach and some fan will no doubt bring a magic number 161 sign to the park the next day. That's funny and cool.

Lose, and Game No. 2 can't get here fast enough. Baseball is magical. Football is brutal.

Now, I'm sure there are other times of the year nearly as good as what we have coming, I just can't think of any right now.

The NBA playoffs? Nah. NHL playoffs? Nah. The NFC and AFC championship games? Kind of, but that's only one day. We have three dynamite events coming in three different sports spread over a bunch of days. It can't be beat.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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