Look, going 63-99 doesn't really give you the benefit of the doubt. If the Phillies were playing baseball right now, if baseball was not a 162-game slog and more of a year-round torture chamber for nerds, then probably, the additions of A.J Achter and Dan Otero and James Russell probably wouldn't have cranked the level of their Francoeur-powered death machine up to "contending."
Instead, our Philadelphia winters are filled with decidedly non-baseball entities, like the Sixers, who have lost their first 14 games of the season in the third year of an interminable restructuring process. Also, the Flyers are around here somewhere, one key veteran or young promising player always underperforming just enough to keep a win streak out of reach.
And every week, the city goes through six days of bitterness, only to emerge on Sunday with hope that yes, this will be the time that the Eagles finally stop looking like a pack of stray dogs running blissfully around a busy highway, running into each other and sniffing their own butts. With each consecutive loss to worse and worse opponents piling up, Philadelphia's last hopes - which were inexplicably pinned to Sam Bradford - have faded into the autumn's early darkness.
Fortunately, national writers are here to point this out for you. Which makes sense, given that these are dire enough circumstances that the world should know of what's happening here in Philadelphia, in the same way the world should know if a world-swallowing pandemic had sprouted from our subway tunnels and was poised to kill us all. But for some reason, the Phillies, who haven't played a game since late September and have done nothing but make key changes to their front office since the MLB season closed, are now being dragged into the mess created by all of Philadelphia's frantically awful in-season squads.
The 3 of them combined have won 5 home games all season. Phillies have as many home wins since 10/1 as Eagles/Sixers https://t.co/nHtXE3FCCi— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) November 23, 2015
This may go down as the worst month in the history of Philly pro sports. And to think it happened without the Phillies playing a game.— Kevin Negandhi (@KNegandhiESPN) November 22, 2015
If we're going cross-sports for our win comparisons, then I have it on pretty good authority that with 63 wins, the Phillies will unarguably win more games than the other three pro sports teams in Philadelphia this season.
Is it easier to imagine a team doing well when they aren't losing every night (anymore)? Yes it is. Is it easy to say Pete Mackanin is a good match for a young team, rather than questioning his every move or glance or massive roster overhaul? Yes it is. Is it easy to fantasize a future in which Andy MacPhail and Matt Klentak use the power of PHIL the Supercomputer to build a roster with congruent levels of talent and heart that becomes so dominant, it actually spends the off-season winning NFL and NBA championships too, just for fun? I think we all know the answer to that very common question.
We may be operating on a lower level of realism when the Phillies' moves are all on paper, but it allows us a necessary break from the dull cuts of actual baseball. The team is on the upswing, philosophically, and while they might lose 110 games in 2016, it will be for a reason. Or at least, we will tell ourselves it is for one. The point is, this place is torturous enough as a sports town when the teams are good; when they're bad, it's even more insufferable.
So there is absolutely no reason to grab the Phillies by ankle and pull them back into this toxic mess while they use this four and a half month breather to massage their temples before returning to, let's face it, Dan Otero kicking off a bullpen game in mid-May.