Jerry Seinfeld once insisted that Americans root for laundry in the free agent era, not people. Even that's not true anymore, at least not in Arizona. Instead, here are the teams you cheer for:
The Arizona Debt Servicers (MLB): The Dan Haren trade has been described as a salary dump and a lousy one at that. Accepting the perceived poor package can best be explained not as a talent deal, but one made to save $6 to $7 million in salary next season and possibly lock in a couple other young men cheaply.
Of course, this trade falls under the long shadow of 2001's championship squad. USA Today reported 18 months ago that the Diamondbacks suffered from the local real estate collapse and 8,000 too many seats while paying $30 million per year in deferred compensation to 17 players.
Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick claimed the deferred compensation would be paid down by 2013, but who knows if that still holds true as the recession-not-recession continues to bear down on the franchise? After all, what does it say about the fiscal health of the Diamondbacks if they made this deal early and for less value to ensure the deal was made at all?
Of course, problems like this make contracts like Eric Byrnes' even more indefensible (another $5 million or so left this season). Edwin Jackson is rumored to be next on the block ($8.75 million in 2011). Assuming Jackson is flipped for only minor leaguers, that leaves the 2011 D-backs with only $23 million in required salary, plus another $15 to $18 million in arbitration cases if so desired.
At that pace, the Diamondbacks might have to put together a Sheetsian (one year, high cost) deal to avoid running afoul of the MLBPA for running their salaries too low.
Come out and see your Arizona Debt Servicers: deferred compensation reduced to a manageable level by 2013 or so! Bring the kids!
(Salary figures from Cot's Baseball Contracts)
The Phoenix Solvencies (NHL): It's not summer in Arizona without 110 F highs, ridiculous electric bills, and a potential suitor for the Phoenix Coyotes coming up short in their bid. Ice Edge Holdings (aka Last Horse in Town) has failed to meet requirements agreed to with the city of Glendale to submit paperwork proving they have the cash to safely make the purchase.
Of course, the NHL and Ice Edge insist the deal will go forward, though the unspoken reason isn't comfort with the fiscal viability of the sale, but an acknowledgment that it's this or Winnipeg. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has no desire to give up yet, so the object lesson about mixed-use zones, tax increment financing, and selling out your city for the opportunity to host a Margaritaville drones on ad nauseum.
Head an hour or so out to Glendale and catch the Phoenix Solvencies while you can! This farewell tour will last almost as long as the Eagles' farewell tour. Hey... are the Eagles looking for a hockey team?
The Phoenix Tax Avoiders (NBA): There are plenty of ways to parse the Phoenix Suns' offseason, but you only really need one: the Suns likely would have paid the luxury tax if Amar'e Stoudemire stayed, possibly for multiple years. The Suns, at roughly $62 million in salaries (including roughly $6-7 million apiece for Josh Childress and Channing Frye) before fleshing out the rest of the roster, will now avoid the luxury tax by staying under the $70m threshold.
The man that put the Suns over the luxury tax threshold, Steve Kerr, is now working for TNT. Watch to see if Lon Babby puts the Suns over the threshold.
The Arizona Lockouts (NFL): You may want to record this season's games and store them safely in case the NFL locks out the players in 2011, which seems more likely by the day.
It's like your father always told you: if you want to be a sports star, become a CPA.