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

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?

SunRidge Canyon Golf Club

In a region known for top-notch golf courses, it can be hard to choose. Don't get teed off; choose SunRidge Canyon, made famous by its challenging last six holes (the Wicked Six). Though the 71-par course is in a residential neighborhood, it doesn't feel that way, because everywhere you go on the course, you're surrounded by gorgeous panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains. And it's not just the backdrop that's beautiful. Designer Keith Foster made a point of incorporating the naturally occurring rock deposits and undulations of the land in his design, giving the course a uniquely tranquil and desert-like feel. Make sure you save time to check out the patio and outdoor fire pit at the Wicked Six Bar & Grill restaurant — unless you've somehow grown tired of breathtaking views.

The history behind Big Surf is nothing short of incredible. Once a pool hall featuring musical acts such as Pink Floyd and Elton John, for decades, Phoenicians have been catching waves formed from 2.5 million gallons of water. These days, Big Surf is a bona fide water park, with speeding water sides and its newest addition, the Mauna Kea Zip Line. Big Surf is bringing the island vibes without the jet lag.

If you want to feel hip, modern, and cool (literally), we recommend grabbing your most fashionable swimsuit and heading over to the Hotel Palomar in downtown Phoenix. Sure, other hotel pools might be larger or more tricked-out, but none are more stylish than the Palomar's rooftop escape. Between dips, you can lounge in one of the plush poolside cabanas with a delicious cocktail from Lustre Rooftop Bar, just actual steps from the edge of the pool. And if you time your visit just right, you can bathe in the glow of the evening sun reflecting off the surrounding skyscrapers. We don't think there's any place that in Phoenix that feels more "big city."

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of