What's the Best Sports Game Series for Each Sport?

Believe it or not I’m actually interested in the answer to this one.

Despite my extensive game collection the most recent sports games I own are from 1998 (well besides Wii Sports but that’s not what I’m talking about).

Really. I’m not joking about that.

So I’ve decided to fill in that gap in my collection. Since most aficionados of those games trade up each year I can get one that’s a few years old for just a dollar or two. Still if I’m going to do this then I might as well get games that I might enjoy playing.

And that takes me to the question: which game series is the best for each sport? Baseball, football, hockey, basketball, soccer, golf, or anything else. Are there particular editions I should watch out for (positive or negative)? Are there options other than EA in most fields? Are the college versions better than the professional?

Prediction: Tiger Woods Golf '10 for the Wii will be the greatest golf game ever as long as you play it with the yet unreleased Wii Motion Plus. Both are supposed to be released sometime this summer. Everything I’ve been reading says that this will get the closest to 1:1 (swing motion, draw, fade, anything). This instantly makes it better than any other golf game in existence.

Other than that, I don’t really play sports games, so I can’t tell you.

I’m looking forward to this. This is the golf game (hopefully) that I wish I had. It BETTER have a heaping assload of courses on the disc, though.

Well, there’s always Madden. There’s never really a quantum leap from year to year, but over time the improvement adds up.

Super International Cricket on the SNES is the best cricket game I’ve played. It’s also the only cricket game I’ve ever seen.

EA’s NASCAR games are horrible. Avoid at all costs.

Unfortunately, Madden is the only game in town for the NFL. Once EA bought the exclusive rights, the game stagnated. Which is doubly a shame, since the ESPN NFL series completely blew Madden out of the water.

There are no good cricket games. The Codemasters series (released around the world with a different player in the title - the current version is Ricky Ponting’s Cricket in Australia and Brian Lara’s Cricket in North America) is only awful. EA’s version is substantially worse.