By Mark Paulette
As the Astros and Dodgers open play in the 113th World Series, I present to you my definitive ranking of every major championship North America has to offer. *Rather, the ones worth noting.
- U.S. Open – This one is a bit of a wild card. If Spieth, McIlroy or any big name is in contention coming down the stretch, I’ll watch on Sunday. If Tiger ever steps foot on a golf course again without his back crumbling and plays in a competitive tournament, I’ll watch. But if neither of those factors are in play, I couldn’t care less.
- NHL Playoffs – I know, I’m going to be enemy number one to hockey purists. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are without a doubt exciting and that’s coming from someone who you couldn’t bribe to sit down and watch a regular season game. If the Bruins make a run, I’ll hop aboard the Black and Gold bandwagon. I went to game six of the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 and it was one of the most incredible sports atmospheres I’ve witnessed. But at the end of the day, it’s still hockey. And unless I’m at a local establishment that has a game on, I’m not going to seek one out. (But look purists, I said Final, no ‘s’. That must count for something?)
- College Football Playoff – Expand to at least eight teams and then you may tickle my fancy. It’s not appointment T.V., and it doesn’t help that I don’t have a horse in the race, but football is football and it makes for adequate background entertainment.
- NBA Playoffs – Ahh, top-5. Now there’s starting to be slight tickle in my fancy. I’ll watch every second of each Celtics’ postseason game, as well as most of the marquee matchups. By the time the Finals roll around, at the very least I’ll flick back and forth between them and whatever the Sox’ game happens to be. Ultimately, however, the predictability is what keeps this tournament at the tail end of my top-5. While a game or two may have an unpredicted swing, series’ as wholes tend to go the way of the odds makers.
- The Masters – How on earth does a golf tournament find itself ahead of the NBA? I know, it doesn’t feel right, but there’s just something special about The Masters. Maybe it’s the fact it serves as a rite of Spring to see the vibrant azaleas of Augusta National in full blossom while we’re still potentially dealing with snow-covered grounds in Maine. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for a whispering Jim Nantz. Either way, The Masters is still the champagne of golf tourneys, and deserving of a place in my top-4.
- NFL Playoffs – Now, let me clarify. The Super Bowl as a stand-alone event is at least number two on my list, and should the Patriots be playing that day, it’s an easy #1. That being said, outside of the Patriots, the NFL postseason can be highly volatile, as a Pats’ loss can spoil the whole show. Couple that with a degree of predictability that is drastically less than the NBA, but greater than MLB, and January football finds itself coming away with bronze in my book.
- MLB Playoffs – The biggest difference between the MLB’s and the NFL’s postseason is the drastic change in feel from regular season to post season. It’s not necessarily a quantifiable factor across the board as it can differ in everyone, but I find primetime regular season NFL games to be almost on par with postseason showdowns, while baseball’s postseason has a much more evident jolt following the laboring 162-game regular season slate. Plus, there’s just something unique about watching an early-evening game at Fenway or Wrigley with an orange harvest sun in the background that the grayness of January football can’t match.
- March Madness – If you have disagreed with me to this point that is fine. To each his own. But if you disagree with March Madness sitting atop this list, you are simply wrong. The Thursday and Friday on which the first round is played should be a national holiday. Whether you’re financially invested or following casually in an office pool, few people go through the month of March unaware of college basketball’s hardwood happenings.
Mark Paulette is the Executive Producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.