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Sorry, Rick Reilly

July 20, 2009 - Steve Murch
Rick Reilly of ESPN, and formerly of Sports Illustrated, has his top 10 must-see sporting events. Some of them I agree are worth, but some … not so much. I had planned on doing this week's top 10 on the most influential TV personalities, with the passing of Walter Cronkite last week, but I'll wait a week on that one. Besides, I have about 20 personalities on the list right now.

First, are Reilly's picks. The full explanation of his picks are in column (the link is to the right). 10. Home Run Derby. 9. Iditarod. 8. Ryder Cup. 7. Yankees vs. Red Sox at Fenway. 6. Americaás Cup. 5. Tour de France. 4. North Carolina vs. Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 3. Wimbledon. 2. Kentucky Derby. 1.Masters.

Right off the bat (no pun intended), I have to object to the Home Run Derby. It's batting practice where the competitors try to launch moon shots, and inevitably one player screws up his swing for the rest of the year. Again, it's batting practice and its outcome doesn't matter.

The men's 100 meters in the Olympics don't happen often enough to qualify. The best minute in sports (that includes the time in the blocks, since the race is less than 10 seconds). But it doesn't happen every year. For one must-see event that isn't sports at all, put Tomatina at the top of the list, but be up high – it's the world's largest tomato fight – because otherwise you wind up a mess.

10.Running of the Bulls at Pamplona. OK, I know it's not really a sporting event as much as a spectacle, but there is running and agility – the lack of which may get you killed.

9. Indianapolis 500. This is the classic race in America and has been around since 1911. While open-wheel racing has taken a back seat (if possible in race cars) to NASCAR, the Indy race is still the one to see.

8. Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. Swim 2.4 miles, bicycle for 112 miles, then run a marathon. The people who do finish that should be cheered loudly (they are).

7. North Caroline-Duke in Cameron. The best basketball rivalry in every conceivable way. This game is a classic at either team's arena, but Cameron is better.

6. U.S. Open tennis. Wimbledon has its pageantry, but the U.S. Open is pure New York. Loud and spirited. There is nothing like a men's night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium that goes five sets.

5. Tour de France. Grueling is the only way to describe it. Nearly three weeks on a bike, sprinting all out, climbing mountains and battling the elements while covering more than 2,000 miles.

4. Boston Marathon. This is the great American road race, though it's been years since an American won the darn thing. Even with all the success of the Boston teams recently, I wouldn't doubt that most New Englanders consider this event the sports pinnacle.

3. Michigan-Notre Dame football in South Bend. This is one of the best rivalries in college football and there is nothing like Football Jesus looming in the distance. There might be a few rivalry games that are better, but combined with the setting this one is tops.

2.Kentucky Derby. The first leg in the Triple Crown usually spoils more dreams that keeps dreams alive. Probably the only time where Mint Juleps are considered hip.

1.British Open. With all due respect to the Masters, this one never plays the same. Part of that comes with the fact the event is never held at the same place in consecutive years. Throw in weather that can change from hole to hole (forget the day to day stuff), links golf isn't the norm on the PGA and the uniqueness of some of the courses, and you have a special event.


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