13 March 2001

Coyotes Trade Best Player Again

At the trade deadline, the Coyotes traded Keith Tkachuk to the St. Louis Blues for 3 players and a future #1 draft pick (not the same value as a #1 in football or basketball ...). Do any of the local professional sports franchises actually care about putting out a "winning" product? In the off-season, the Diamondbacks strengthened their team by signing a "over-the-hill" first baseman who has a career high of 17 home runs, and an oft-injured 33 year old right fielder that has only put up good numbers in two seasons. For the total money they plunked on Grace and Sanders, they could have wooed Juan Gonzalez to Phoenix and put a legitimate cleanup hitter into the number 4 slot and right field. The Cardinals are headed for another campaign of mediocrity, or an encore performance of the dismal 2000 season - and as long as Bidwell is at the helm, the Cardinals will continue their sorry tradition as laughingstock losers. The Suns, who have a limited history of success - 2 championship appearances only to return home as bridesmaids, seem to have chartered a course for rebuilding - it is rumored that the present stars will be dealt in the post-season and the Suns brass will begin again to construct a champion.

I understand that the moves made are necessary acts to cut costs in a world of spiraling, out-of-control player salaries and small market and medium market cities simply can't keep up with the big time money cities and/or owners. But consider this - fans who are paying top dollar to attend sporting events come to expect either (1) seeing winning team performances or (2) outstanding individual efforts from superstar performers like Mario Lemieux, Michael Jordan, Mark McGwire, Brett Favre, etc. ... If a team trades their stars or guts the team of high paid veterans, a losing team devoid of all-stars doesn't make for a lucrative box-office draw (or for high TV ratings ...). So, a pro franchise then enters a downward cycle that only is broken when a new crop of young players restores franchise respectibility. But then eventually, those players want to get paid and leave for greener pastures, and so on ...

I know many sports fans abandon the professional ranks and satisfy their spectator interest with collegiate sports. But the university level is filled with sleaze, corruption, and greed that is greater than or equal to that of the professional leagues. Having several friends who have played in the NFL, and hearing of their NCAA recruitment experience provided insight on just how twisted and warped the major college programs are (at least in regards to Division I football and basketball ...). As for college baseball, well, baseball isn't baseball with aluminum bats ... The Coyotes just touched a nerve with me, again - I'm an avid hockey fan, and when it was announced that Phoenix was going to get the relocated Winnipeg Jets, I was so excited and was more than eager to pony up the price for season tickets. Then at the 1996 trade deadline, the Jets/soon-to-be-Coyotes traded Teemu Selanne to the Mighty Ducks. Selanne, one of a handful of skaters ever to score more than 75 goals in a season, was dealt for three prospects, none of which ever emerged a star (only 1 has had a decent career thus far ...). The trade made no sense to me, and Phoenix's newest franchise lost a customer (me!). Trading away your best player never is a good idea - the plan should be to acquire superstar players, not get rid of them. Teams that trade away hall of famers are destined to become like the Boston Red Sox. The curse of the Bambino lives on!