Column: Nothing beats April when it comes to sports

When I started dating my wife in July 2010, my timing couldn’t have been better.

The Mets were 47-39. While not a bad record, it was the point in the season when my favorite baseball team’s annual slide was set to begin.

You see, the Mets were not contenders that year, and I knew that at eight games above .500 things could only go downhill from there, allowing me maximum time to focus on this new relationship.

As it turns out, I was right. The Mets lost 44 of their remaining 76 games and slowly descended into fourth place in the National League East standings. By the time opening day rolled around in 2011, we were already engaged and, with that verbal commitment from my love, I safely turned my attention back to the Mets.

I was reminded of all this Sunday as I tried to balance a four-hour drive home from Saratoga Springs with following two baseball games, the final day of the Masters and being a father to two kids under the age of 4. It wasn’t very easy, and I heard a lot of “Grant, where are you?” as I snuck off to watch the leaders approach Amen Corner. I hardly left our bedroom until Addison Reed closed out the Mets’ victory nearly six hours later.

April is the most difficult month to be a husband and a father to two young kids. That’s because it’s by far the best sports month on the calendar.

From Major League Baseball’s Opening Day to the NFL draft and everything in between, little downtime is left for sports fans. Final Four? Check. NBA playoffs? Check. Stanley Cup playoffs? Check that off, too.

After work Monday, I typed a list of all major sporting events and ranked each month in order. Yes, this is what I do in my spare time, or rather when I’m watching the Mets beat the Phillies.

I learned that things will not be getting much easier for my family these next few months. May (fourth) and June (second) also ranked in the top four sports months of the year for me.

June and April are in a class by themselves as far as sports months go. Father’s Day is arguably the best sports day of the year, it being generally accepted that multiple generations of men and boys will crowd around television sets watching daytime baseball and the final afternoon of golf’s U.S. Open while munching on chips and salsa.

Of course, you could make the argument that Super Bowl Sunday is better, but it’s the only good sports day that month in a non-Olympic year, so by the end of the night depression begins to set in. February, with the NBA and NHL in a mid-season slumber and taking time off for their respective all-star breaks, is by far the worst sports month of the year.

My least favorite sports days of the year would have to be the two days in July between the MLB All-Star game and the start of the second half. In my past life as sports editor of a daily newspaper, that was the most difficult time to fill that section. One year, I can remember running multiple days of Tour de France coverage above the fold. It’s safe to say Lance Armstrong’s doping regimen enhanced my section along with his performance. Even with Wimbledon and the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup every four years, July can have so many uneventful days; I ranked it 11th on my list.

Rounding out the lower tier of my sports calendar was November at No. 10. Sure, three of the four major sports are in season, as well as the two biggest college sports, but meaningful games can be few and far between.

The remaining months of the year all offer something to look forward to.

October ranked third on my list. It’s the only month when all four major sports are in action and, in a year when your baseball team reaches the postseason, your teams all have hope that time of year.

May slotted in fourth on the sheer force of the Kentucky Derby, which is also usually a great sports viewing afternoon. January followed in fifth place (NFL playoffs) and September at sixth (pennant race baseball and the start of the NFL season). I kicked off the second half of my list with December in seventh (meaningful NFL games and the start of bowl season), followed by August in eighth (U.S. Open tennis and sometimes Summer Olympics) and March in ninth (NCAA Tournament and spring training).

Usually when I tell my wife it’s nice one season ended so I can focus on home life for a while, she reminds me another one is right around the corner. Coming up with this list, I realized she’s absolutely correct. At least we’ll always have those two nights in July.

The author is the executive editor of Times Review Media Group. He can be reached at [email protected].