Best Sports Franchise (2001)
In some ways, 2001 has been a bumpy year for the D-Backs. Consistently disappointing fan turnout has confirmed that the honeymoon days of 1998-'99 have faded. And the team's well-chronicled money problems have called into question its long-term viability as a major league baseball franchise. But in an era when player salaries and team budgets are dinner-table topics, it's easy to forget that the measuring stick that really counts is on-field performance. And the D-Backs have definitely delivered on the field, expertly mixing the overpowering pitching of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling with the astounding power hitting of Luis Gonzalez, and getting just enough help from a solid, journeyman cast. Along the way, they've given the Valley its most serious title contender since Sir Charles and his Phoenix Suns gave the Bulls a scare in '93.