Proposition 1: The first two Phillies games this year have been atrocious.
Proposition 2: The first two Phillies games this year have been very encouraging.
Obviously, these are two completely different claims about the Phillies games so far this season. Both though are supported by the facts.
Facts supporting proposition 1: The Phillies had the lead late into both games. In both games, though, their bullpen let them down, allowing the Reds to take the lead. But it wasn't just about the horrendous relief pitching. The offense has been dormant, scoring all of their 4 total runs on 2 homers. Their outfield has been worse than advertised, with only one hit so far.
Facts supporting proposition 2: The starting pitching has been great so far. Jeremy Hellickson looked sharp on opening day, and Aaron Nola threw one of the best games of his early career in the second game. On the other side of the ball, Maikel Franco's spring power was not a mirage, as he hit a blast yesterday cutting through intense wind. And Freddy Galvis's always-surprising power has already reared its head. From a management standpoint, Pete Mackanin has shown leadership in making it clear that established veterans Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz are not going to go through the season as the unquestioned starters, sharing time with Darin Ruf and Cameron Rupp.
Of course, all of these things are true statements, so it's entirely possible to believe both proposition 1 and proposition 2 at the same time. But here's the important point - it is 100% your choice to as to which of these you focus on.
If you want to focus on the bullpen blowing both games, go ahead and do so. But know that if you choose to do that, you're going to be inflicting a long and miserable season on yourself.
The alternative is to choose to focus on the things that are going right and the things that indicate the team is moving in the right direction for the future. If you do this, you will have to brush off the losses and instead choose to look at the measurable ways that the Phillies are improving.
This is not a pollyanish everything-is-glorious way of seeing the 2016 season. Rather, it's a recognition that wins may not be the right way to measure the success of the Phillies this year. I understand that this may be hard, given that the bottom line in sports is wins and losses.
However, this season is different. As a building year, the outcome of individual games is one of the least important measures. What matters is that young guys are improving and that the team is showing that it knows how to construct a roster. Beyond that, sure, the occasional exciting win would be nice, but those are gravy this season.
In order to have this mindset, you don't have to go so far as the Sixers and start rooting for losses in order to maximize the team's chances for the #1 draft pick in 2017. Rather, you just have to be relatively indifferent as to wins and losses. Or, maybe slightly differently, you'd prefer a win because they feel better, but if the team doesn't win, that's fine. As long as there are indications the team is heading in the right direction, that's all that matters. And so far, we have a lot of those indicators.
All baseball seasons are long and grueling, but if the first two games are any indication, the Phillies 2016 season promises to be longer and more grueling than most. How you react to the games is entirely up to you though.