Best Male Athlete 2016 | Arizona Diamondbacks First Baseman Paul Goldschmidt | Fun & Games | Phoenix

Paul Goldschmidt is the guy that pitchers' nightmares are made of. At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds of solid muscle, he's got a killer eye for the strike zone and a habit of punishing pitchers who make even minor mistakes when facing him. The Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman is one of the best in the league at drawing walks, so pitchers can't throw outside the zone and hope he'll chase. Nope, the only way to get him out is to throw him strikes, but unfortunately for everyone not on the Diamondbacks, he tends to crush those. He's one of those rare players that both hits for power and a high batting average, and though the Diamondbacks might have whimpered through yet another disappointing season, Goldy is as productive as ever, named as a reserve in the All-Star game.

It's not like Cardinals running back David Johnson came out of nowhere. The Cardinals took him in the third round of the NFL draft, after all. But no one in the league foresaw the monster offensive season Johnson turned in during the 2015 campaign. He established himself as a versatile triple threat, able to confound defenses by running the ball, catching the ball, and returning kicks. His statline reflects his hugely productive season as well — 13 touchdowns and more than 1,600 yards are great numbers for anyone, not just a rookie. He showed his most exciting potential against Philadelphia last year when he gashed the Eagles for 187 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The future of the Cardinals' backfield looks bright.

Few sports are kind to the ravages of age, and professional football is certainly a young man's sport. But beloved Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has continued to dominate the league into his 30s. Not only is he able to stay competitive at age 33, he was, by any measure, one of the best receivers in the game last year. While it's not unusual to see veteran players continue to contribute well into their 30s, they rarely keep up with the young guns as well as Fitzgerald did last year. The average age of the eight players who finished with more receiving yards than Fitzgerald is 26. Just shows what talent, hard work, and winning the genetic lottery can do for you in the National Football League.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, at 36, is like a fine red wine. He was the best regular-season QB in the league in 2015, and that season was an exclamation point on a career filled with many more downs than ups. Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003 (prior to Palmer's arrival, Cincinnati hadn't enjoyed a winning season since 1990), he suffered numerous injuries and poisonous front-office politics before he requested a trade in 2010. Out of spite, Bengals owner Mike Brown refused to honor the request, effectively sentencing Palmer to football purgatory after the team drafted quarterback Andy Dalton. Brown eventually relented and traded Palmer to the one franchise worse than hell — the Oakland Raiders. He spent two years playing awful Bay Area football before arriving via trade in Arizona. The following seasons have seen Palmer blossom into an elite quarterback. They say success is the best revenge after a toxic breakup, and last year was the gaudy diamond ring on Palmer's joyous middle finger to his old bosses.

When the Arizona Diamondbacks owners demanded Maricopa County pony up almost $200 million for stadium repairs, lest the team bolt for greener pastures, you'd have to forgive the average fan for at least beginning to swallow the bait. After all, there's precedent. When the Arizona Coyotes threatened to leave and demanded the Glendale city government give the team all but the mayor's firstborn daughter and the city council had the gall to balk, Coyotes fans nearly tarred and feathered their elected officials. So there was some precedent that the Diamondbacks could get their way fairly easily. But there's no serious way to look at this in which the Diamondbacks don't come off sounding entitled and whiny. Chase Field is less than 20 years old, and it's already not "state-of-the-art"? Maybe if the team spent some money on more than one talented player (the team's payroll is among the lowest in the league), it wouldn't have to beg taxpayers for repair money equal to almost half of what it cost to build the damn thing in the first place.

Ever since Steve Nash left for a second time, not much has been bright in Suns land. The 2015-16 season was a dark one, indeed, for the hometown ballers, but one shining star that appears when you go 23-59 in the regular season is you usually get a pretty good draft pick, and the Suns had more than a few needs when they landed the No. 4 slot in the lotto. Most observers had them looking for a power forward to replace Mirza Teletovic, and it seemed pretty likely that the team would draft either Croatian import Dragan Bender or University of Washington product Marquese Chriss to fill the outgoing Bosnian's shoes. But in a move that either shows maximum indecisiveness or brilliance, the Suns traded for the eighth pick and drafted both players. To quote the little girl from the Old El Paso commercial, why not both?

Steve Kerr was part of a group that bought the Phoenix Suns in 2004, and up until 2010 he was the team's general manager. But he left after that season when majority owner Robert Sarver refused to give Kerr and the Suns' coaches raises, and Kerr sat on the sidelines until he became the head coach of the Golden State Warriors in 2014. Since then, Phoenix Suns fans have had to watch glumly as the Warriors became one of the most exciting teams in NBA history, with our former GM leading the team in 2016 to an NBA-record 73 regular-season wins. Kerr's success must feel like sand in Sarver's eyes, and Suns fans are forced to watch Kerr lead a team that has lost just one more game in two years than the Suns won during the  2015-16 season.

Santa gave the Phoenix Suns a stinker of a present at the end of 2015. Shortly after the holiday, the Suns fired two of head coach Jeff Hornacek's assistants, Jerry Sichting and Mike Longabardi, after the team had sputtered to a start that meekly flirted with respectability. The move was disastrous. The Suns then proceeded to win just three games out of their next 30. Naturally, team leaders then fired head coach Jeff Hornacek, who had taken the reins of a promising roster two years earlier and then went on to steer the carriage into a lake. Owner Robert Sarver then promoted the lone remaining assistant coach, Earl Watson, to interim head coach, despite the fact Watson's sole head coaching experience came in the NBA's development league. Naturally, the Suns finished with the fourth-worst record in the NBA. But hey, at least the team got some sweet draft picks as a result.

Was it weird for the Diamondbacks to sign ace pitcher Zack Greinke to a $34 million-a-year contract? Well, in the context of a grown man getting paid $200,000 a day to throw a ball past another grown man, yes. In the context of baseball, even more so. The move placed the second-biggest salary in baseball on a team with the fifth-smallest payroll in the league. But for that kind of money, you expect big-time results, and neither Greinke nor the Diamondbacks have delivered to expectations. Greinke is having an okay season, sure, but for that kind of money, you'd better be pitching like you're in a video game on easy mode, and Greinke has looked disappointingly human.

Best Place to See a Spring Training Game

Salt River Fields

If baseball is America's pastime, then we think it's safe to say that spring training specifically is Arizona's. Despite the increased traffic from snowbirds, spring training might just be the most wonderful time of the year in the Valley. And while we're lucky enough to choose from a mittful of places to watch this American classic, we keep going back to Salt River Fields. Even if the complex wasn't incredibly easy to access right off the Loop 101, didn't have an abundance of parking available or a well-shaded grandstand, and didn't offer great tanning potential on the affordable lawn seating, we'd still have a soft spot for these fields. What could be better than watching our home team play against the background of the beautiful McDowell Mountains in the distance?

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