No.10 – Kentucky Derby
Date: May 1st
Location: Louisville, KY
The Kentucky Derby will get plenty of attention this year after last year’s historic classic. In 2009, the 50-to-1 long shot Mine That Bird came all the way from the back of the pack to win the race by the widest margin in 60 years. Plus, the 50-to-1 odds were the longest for a Derby winner in 85 years.
No.9 – U.S. Open
Dates: August 30th – September 12th
Location: Flushing Meadows, NY
The 2009 season was supposed to signal a changing of the guard with Rafael Nadal unseating Roger Federer at the Australian Open, Juan Martin Del Potro upending Federer in the U.S. Open and Andy Roddick pushing him to his extremes at Wimbledon.
But only Federer’s impeccable consistency — and none of the young guns — showed up at the first Grand Slam of 2010, as he easily won the Australian Open.
Before it looked like Swiss Maestro had been fading out, but now the question is who will stop the Federer Express this year? With 16 Grand Slams and counting, Federer will surely be eyeing the U.S. Open, which is the only title he hasn’t held in the last year.
No.8 – Stanley Cup Finals
After a thrilling Olympic hockey tournament in which Canada won gold and the United States won silver as nearly 35 million North Americans watched, there has been a spike in interest in the coolest game on Earth.
While some fell short of winning the top Olympic prize, many will still aim for tradition to hoist the Stanley Cup.
Expect a number of Olympic faces to look familiar as they vie for Lord Stanley’s mug. Sidney Crosby’s Penguins are well positioned to defend their crown, while Alexander Ovechkin and his top-ranked Washington Capitals have other plans. In the West, the Sharks hope to erase previous playoff miseries while the young Blackhawks hope to make sweet, new memories.
No.7 – World Series
Hate them or love them, baseball is a lot more interesting when the New York Yankees are involved. In 2009, they were the headline as they won the World Series, and they’ll be the talk of the ton in 2010 as well.
Their crosstown competitors, the Mets, have dipped into their checking accounts once more this off-season, and are hoping to represent the National League in the World Series. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies, who did exactly that last year, added staff ace Roy Halladay to a star-studded roster that could push them over the top.
And don’t forget about the Boston Red Sox, who will only be futher fueled by the Yankees’ successes. They have retooled in the off-season and would like nothing more than to knock their bitter rivals off their pedestal in 2010.
No.6 – Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Shane Mosley
Date: May 1st
Location: Las Vegas, NV
After Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. disposed of Juan Manuel Marquez last summer, “Sugar” Shane Mosley stepped into the ring and made it known to Mayweather that he wanted a shot. At that time, Mayweather — and all of boxing — had his eye on a different fight with Manny Pacquiao, but when that showdown stalled at the negotiations table, Mosley came in.
The fight will take place on May 1st and “Sugar” Shane is under the impression it will be Mayweather’s first defeat. But Mayweather, who has six titles in five weight classes, doesn’t know a whole lot about losing. The 38-year-old Mosley will have to prove that he can succeed at handling Mayweather’s speed, which is something 40 other fighters have failed to do.
No.5 – March Madness
Dates: March 16th – April 5th
Location: Indianapolis, ID (Final Four)
Gus Johnson isn’t the only one who’ll go mad this March as the college basketball playoffs return with another electrifying tournament of 64.
This year’s headline acts have included: the Syracuse Orange, who became the sixth team in NCAA history to be unranked prior to the start of the season but have since climbed to No. 1; the Kentucky Wildcats, who under the tutelage of John Calipari have morphed from a forgotten to a favorite in his first season; and the Kansas Jayhawks, whose experienced leaders Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich made a promise to each other to return for one more year to try to win another championship.
And don’t forget about Cinderella, who often makes appearances at events like this.
No.4 – The Return Of Brock Lesnar
Date: July 3rd (rumored)
Location: Las Vegas, NV (rumored)
The last time we saw Brock Lesnar, he was at the top of the UFC food chain after having crushed Frank Mir like an empty can of Bud Light beer at UFC 100 — a feat that became the most-watched pay-per-view event of 2009.
While sitting on top of the UFC world, pundits started to wonder who would be able to knock him off the mountaintop. As it turns out, his own health did.
Lesnar’s career and life were threatened due to mononucleosis and a perforation in his intestine, but the good news is that he’s healthy and he’s coming back.
He’s slated to return in the coming months to face Shane Carwin. Assuming everything goes according to plan, the UFC should have one of their biggest brand names back in the Octagon making fans cheer this summer.
No.3 – NBA Finals
After last year’s disappointing failure in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers have their eye squarely on the prize. Considering their superstar LeBron James becomes a free agent this off-season — an event many franchises have been anticipating for years — a lot banks on this year’s championship.
The Cavs have stacked the deck by adding Antawn Jamison and Shaquille O’Neal, which could set up some tantalizing playoff matchups. In the Eastern rounds, we could see the old Superman, O’Neal, against the Superman of the new school in Dwight Howard and his Orlando Magic.
And in the finals, Shaq could add nice edge against his former mates in an already sizzling matchup between LeBron and Kobe Bryant and his reigning-champion Los Angeles Lakers.
No.2 – The Masters
Date: April 8th – 11th
Location: Augusta, GA
Unfortunately for Angel Cabrera, the main story of the 2010 Masters Tournament will not be whether or not he repeats. That is, unless he can out-duel Tiger Woods for another green jacket.
Yes, Woods will be the main story at The Masters and all signs point to his return to golf either prior to the first major of the year or at it. Woods has been in the rough for a good while now since his off-course practices were discovered and he’s getting anxious to get back on the fairways again.
All eyes — hardcore golf enthusiasts, casual sports fans and even the tabloids — will be on Augusta.
No.1 – 2010 FIFA World Cup
Dates: June 11th – July 11th
Location: South Africa
Once every four years, the world watches as the biggest non-Olympic sports tournament takes place. For the first time in the history of the World Cup, an African nation will host. South Africa, and more specifically 10 venues from Cape Town to Johannesburg, will play host as 32 nations fight for the prize.
Italy will be the defending champion, after defeating France in 2006, but they aren’t the front-runner this time around. France barely survived qualifications on a controversial handball while Italy is behind favorites Spain, Brazil and England, according to the oddsmakers and media.