In January we had the following:
- Arizona Cardinals in the NFL Playoffs
- Phoenix Suns making a run to the playoffs
- Phoenix Coyotes on their way to 107 points and a playoff birth
- Arizona Diamondbacks anticipation for a good season
Now in December we see the following:
- Arizona Cardinals 3 - 9 (as of today)
- Phoenix Suns mediocrity
- Phoenix Coyotes making another run after a lackluster start
- Arizona Diamondbacks making moves at the GM meetings and anticipation of a new Spring Training Facility and the All-Star Game
Taken one at a time:
The Cardinals first sign that things would not be the same was the retirement of Kurt Warner. This left the team in a quarterback quandary. Could Matt Leinart be the QB of the future? Who would the team sign? There were a few other players that let the team via free agency which hurt, but it seemed that the replacements could fill in fine. The team signed Derek Anderson to compete with Leinart for the starting job. The preseason came and the Cardinals offense was offensive. Leinart was cut and Anderson named the starter. Un-drafted rookie Max Hall and 5th round draft pick John Skelton were named the number 2 and 3 quarterbacks. It hasn't worked out for the Cardinals and the 3 - 9 record proves that.
The Suns had their own off season changes. Most notably the departure of Amare Stoudamire. This gave everyone the opinion that they would not be able to compete in the Western Conference. So far they haven't done bad, however I believe that they will fade as they rely too heavily on Steve Nash to be on his game every night. Can they make the playoffs? Maybe, but I wouldn't be surprised if they ended up around 10th or 11th in the conference.
The Coyotes had some changes, but nothing major. The biggest issue surrounding the team was who would step up and buy them. The NHL currently owns the team and if a buyer was found that would move the team then the fan base would deteriorate dramatically. That situation however seems to be getting closer to resolved. Nevertheless the team did not start out well. Then a hot streak in November and the Coyotes are starting to show the form that won over the fans. Hopefully they will continue to be strong and given head coach Dave Tippetts style they should once again make the playoffs. Here's hoping because there is nothing quite like the atmosphere of playoff hockey (and I want to go to a few playoff games again).
Finally the Diamondbacks have had many changes this past year. The team performed poorly during the season and the manager and GM were both let go mid-way through the season. Enter in Kevin Towers (former Padres GM) and Kirk Gibson as manager and things may get turned around. The trade of Mark Reynolds earlier this week and the rumored trade talks surrounding Justin Upton should have put everyone on notice that Towers will be taking this team in a direction that will (hopefully) build a winner. The D-Backs will be moving to a new Spring Training facility in Scottsdale this year and host the all-star game. The team needs to perform to show that these "perks" are warranted. I believe the players will respond, but whether that translates to success on the field is anyone's guess.
If the question "Which professional Arizona sports team would be the best in 2010?" was asked in January, I believe the answer would have been the Suns or the Cardinals. It's amazing to me that if it was asked now the answer HAS to be the Coyotes. Imagine hockey in the desert is better than football, basketball or baseball.