Curing Discouragement in a Game of Failure - Bottom of the Ninth #109


Bottom of the 9th - Curing Discouragement

Curing Discouragement in a Game of Failure

by Tom Walters

Baseball has long been called a game of failure.  I've never really cared for that moniker.  You see - I am a glass half-full guy.  With all of the negativity in the world, I wasn't too keen on the idea that the game we love would carry such a negative connotation.  How did baseball get to be known as a game of failure?In part, it comes from the idea that the best of the best hitters in the major leagues hit for a batting average around .300. Can we agree that's an awesome batting average?  The negativity comes when you look at the 7 times in 10 at bats that a .300 hitter doesn't produce a hit.   If the best deal with failure 7 in 10 at bats, how about the rest?  Needless to say, with failure comes discouragement.

What about this discouragement?  I maintain that the best are the best because they handle the challenges of the game and stay in the process.  The best see setbacks as opportunity to grow, and they adhere to sound mental skills and sound fundamentals to advance their skills and advance their game day opportunities.  Baseball really lends itself to statistical analysis and with analysis comes comparison. We compare batting averages and ERAs, we compare fielding percentages,  we even rank highlight plays (thank you, ESPN).

Comparison uses superlatives.  Only one team wins, only one pitcher has the lowest ERA, only one highlight is number one.  Next best?  Well, that's next best, and it can lead to discouragement.  Last? Well, that's last, more discouragement.  And what about the loser?  Well that's the loser and perhaps the most discouragement.  There's plenty of opportunities for a pity party in baseball!

One way to lessen discouragement is to stop making comparisons with others.  If we can stay in the process, recognize that favorable statistics and results come out of a determination to grow and get better in the game and in our walk with Christ we can and we will succeed.  You see results are not pursued but they ensue! To quote Kevin Weatherby, "stop comparing your behind-the-scenes with everyone's highlight reel!"  When we find ourselves rolling over to the shortstop or flying out to center field, ask yourself, "are my imperfections greater than God's perfection?"   DON'T GIVE UP!

Out of discouragement can come a heavy heart and mind full of negative thoughts.  Sometimes it looks like the heavy weight is not only emotional or psychological, but a heavy physical weight when it leads to body language of sagging shoulders and a hanging head.  When discouragement leads to bent over, bad posture and bad body language, it sucks the encouragement right out of you and your teammates.  I had a wonderful opportunity to watch a high school championship game this week with a couple of my favorite high school players.  We saw a pitcher get roughed up a little early in the game.  He kicked the dirt around the mound and was clearly upset as he moped off of the field.  His walk to the mound the next inning looked like he was headed to be scolded.  Clearly he hadn't resolved his discouragement.  The pouting pitcher we watched this week had an affect like an energy vampire and it sucked the competitive edge right out of him and his team.  The result? He and his team were handed a sound defeat.  When you're down and discouraged, PICK YOUR CHIN UP AND LEAN ON GOD.  Remember Phil 4:13: "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."

Discouragement can sure lead to being stagnant.  Sometimes, discouragement can keep us from moving at all! In the game of baseball, if you're not aggressive, your opponent will be!  If you're not moving, you're standing still!  You'll never get where you're going by standing still or wallowing in your disappointment.  The answer to every prayer comes by moving forward not by pouting in the dugout.  Follow God in the process and its successes and lean on him when you're being taught to persevere and strive for excellence but, KEEP MOVING!

The three step cure for dealing with the discouragement in baseball,  is to NEVER GIVE UP,  PICK UP YOUR CHIN AND LEAN ON GOD and to KEEP MOVING forward.  RESULTS ARE NOT PURSUED, RESULTS ENSUE when we are persistent in the process.

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  Now we ask you, brothers and sisters to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.  Live in peace with each other.  And we urge you brothers and sisters warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, bur always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else." - 1 Thessalonians 5:11-15

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You may comment or correspond with Bottom of the 9th by sending an email to

Bottom of the 9th devotionals (current and previous) and other inspirations centered around the game of baseball can be found at

Our mailing address is: