In a press conference in 2015, Vikings' Head Coach Mike Zimmer put forth his Four Learns of Football:
1. First you learn how to compete.
2. Then you learn how to win.
3. Then you learn how to handle winning.
4. Then you learn how to be a champion.
These apply well to the young Rockies team as well - and I would put them firmly in between learns 2 and 3. They're learning how to win, but it seems like after they do for awhile, they seem to be confused about how to handle it, and take a step backwards (see also the first three games of the Mariners series).
When these inevitable steps backward happen, Rockies fans duck and cover. Our pessimism appears in full force, we bemoan the utter uselessness of the pitching, the inability of the bats to ever make hard contact with a ball, the failure which is the bullpen. And then we are called out for being so negative.
We need to remember that we fans were taught to be negative over the past years. Given the Rockies' lack of success, the above responses were perfectly reasonable and rational. Especially when the Rockies consistently awful play reinforced our pessimistic proclamations by proving them true.
If Rockies fans are going to be at least semi-optimistic fans of a competitive team, we also are going to have to work through our own four learns:
1. First you learn not to have that sinking feeling.
2. Then you learn to trust the players and the management.
3. Then you start to believe that they can and will win.
4. Then you learn resilience, that one bad game is only one bad game.
Like the Rockies, I would put the fandom somewhere between learns 2 and 3. For so long we've had a team and management that we could trust only to perform poorly that it's going to take some time to learn to give them the benefit of the doubt by default. We've witnessed so many games which started out bad and went downhill from there that it's going to take some time to learn that not every game is functionally over by the third inning.
For the fans to get to learn 4, where we are able to shrug off the crap that happens (because this is baseball and crap happens in baseball), we're going to need time, patience, and some help from the Rockies themselves. They need to play well consistently, so that good games becomes the norm, and lousy games become the anomaly. A little positive reinforcement goes a long way.
Like the Rockies' road to competitiveness, getting to learn 4 is not a direct path, it's going to be full of bumps and regressions. But if the Rockies can learn to be champions, we can learn to be resilient fans. It's a journey we're all on together.
(I also encourage anyone with an alternative list of Four Learns for Fans to post - this year is definitely all about being a learning experience for everyone.)