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Soaking in the greatest sports time of the year

The middle part of March to early April should always be circled on calendars

Pittsburgh Pirates v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

No really, it's almost the sports equivalent of Christmas.

The greatest stretch of the sports calendar each year is upon us.

The middle of March through the first few weeks of April output some of the best sporting events the world has to offer and enjoy.

Free agency moves and trades throughout the National Football League (NFL) got the ball rolling and created a tidal wave impacting the entire sports landscape, all ending with the NFL Draft starting April 28.

March Madness came to an end Monday night in New Orleans with No. 1 seed Kansas winning the 2022 National Championship over No. 8 seed North Carolina after a wild and unpredictable tournament. A tough loss for UNC, but they have key players potentially returning for another title run.

A small school most people have never heard of, St. Peter’s, stormed their way to the Elite 8, and the basketball world bid farewell to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski one final time, both falling at the hands of UNC. The Duke-UNC rivalry wrote a new chapter to an astonishingly impressive history book, ending coach K’s career with an overall .500 mark against the Tar Heels (50-50).

South Carolina defeated powerhouse UConn 64-49 Sunday night in the women’s tourney after dominating the start of action and pulling ahead 22-8 after the first quarter.

NBA and NHL playoff races continue to heat up with talent-rich teams-the L.A. Lakers and Brooklyn Nets- collapsing into potentially missing the playoffs or heading to the low seed play-in game.

Monday also begins Masters week and “a tradition unlike any other” in Augusta, Georgia. Tiger Woods - a recipient of five green jackets - is also at the tournament with rumors swirling he will return to the course.

Factor in NASCAR, WrestleMania, and World Cup Qualifying, and this time of year goes head-to-head with October when all four major leagues - NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB - are on display.

Major League Baseball is set to join the fun Thursday, April 7 after a shortened spring impacted by the 99-day lockout.

The return of baseball might not be welcoming to fans still frustrated with the latest CBA ignoring the sport’s economic crisis. It also doesn’t help that negotiations pushed the start of games back a week and people with tickets to early spring games missed out on the national pastime.

Regardless of its flaws, baseball still has a way of capturing an audience and being an important part of the summer months for some people.

The Pirates are going to struggle in 2022, maybe not as much as the previous two seasons, but do contain reasons for a small amount of optimism.

Changes to PNC Park have been announced as well before the public returns on April 12.

This time of year should be celebrated and enjoyed similarly to October, November, and December, but obviously for different reasons and circumstances.

As many other sports and events reach their conclusion, baseball is just beginning and marking Opening Day and home openers as another major event circled on many local calendars.

It is sports fans’ Heaven on Earth for a week or so more to sit back and soak in.

So sit back and enjoy the ride, at least if you don’t have a specific rooting interest. I know I will.