May 28, 2024

We hope the atmosphere around your Thanksgiving table, whether large or intimate, is filled with positivity.

As for the state of Arizona’s sports scene in 2023, the vibes are undeniably positive, regardless of one’s team allegiance. Not a single major sports team seems to be in a gloomy state, perhaps because the collective experience has seen worse days.

Arizona Diamondbacks...

Even teams facing significant challenges currently maintain a clear vision that sparks hope, a noteworthy aspect to appreciate. Let’s take a moment on this Thanksgiving Day to acknowledge and discuss the aspects of our sports landscape that we should be grateful for – a sentiment perhaps not predicted on anyone’s 2023 bingo card.

corbin carroll

Torey Lovullo and his team demonstrated a belief in their potential, evident from their high expectations voiced during the spring. While much of this optimism centered around Corbin Carroll, unforeseen favorable circumstances, such as Ketel Marte overcoming injuries and standout performances from pitchers Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, contributed to the positive trajectory. The bullpen, a historical weakness, turned around at the end of the year, and Gabriel Moreno emerged as a force both behind the plate and at bat during the postseason. Despite a season with ups and downs, the World Series run validated the rebuilding efforts led by general manager Mike Hazen, reawakening a fanbase that now has every reason to believe in a new era.

Mat Ishbia, Phoenix Suns

A few months into the interim leadership, it seemed that things could only get better post-Robert Sarver era. However, as pessimists might warn, circumstances can always take a turn for the worse. In December, Mat Ishbia’s acquisition of the Suns marked a turning point. His swift actions, including trading for Kevin Durant and reshaping the entire roster, signaled a new era of fan-focused management. Regardless of the outcomes of trades or the team’s performance, there’s a tangible sense of positive change and care for the product.

Kenny Dillingham

The Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State Sun Devils are witnessing a rejuvenation with new leadership. Despite a challenging record, the Cardinals’ general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon are actively building a positive culture amidst a hard reset. Kyler Murray’s return has brought attention back to him, emphasizing the ongoing challenge of finding a reliable starting quarterback. At Arizona State, Ray Anderson’s resignation marked a shift towards a new era, with Kenny Dillingham leading the football program. While facing challenges, a resolution to an NCAA investigation and a strategic plan for improving basketball facilities and moving to the Big 12 are on the horizon.

The Phoenix Rising FC deserves recognition for its remarkable postseason journey, overcoming odds to clinch the championship. Statewide, regardless of teams’ aspirations or rebuilding stages, there’s a prevailing sense of positivity. The Arizona Coyotes, Arizona Wildcats (both in basketball and football), and Grand Canyon men’s basketball team are all showcasing promise in their respective arenas.

Phoenix Rising FC celebrates its 2023 USL Championship title

The Phoenix Mercury, under new leadership with general manager Nick U’Ren and head coach Nate Tibbetts, have a positive outlook with key players like Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner expressing their intent to return in 2024. Griner’s ability to spend Thanksgiving with her family serves as a poignant reminder of perspective, considering her release from a Russian penal colony last December after an arrest in February 2022.

In summary, Thanksgiving in Arizona extends beyond the dinner table, resonating positively in the sports universe with achievements, transformations, and a collective sense of hope and gratitude.

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