An Ugly Win is Still a Win
by C.A. Phillips
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!
1 Corinthians 9:24 (NLT)
Did you SEE the Braves game this past Monday? Starter Touki Toussant struggled with his command, walking six batters in three innings, while also allowing four runs and two dingers. His ERA continued to soar, and sits at 7.97 on the season. And, then there’s the hitting. It seemed every inning they Braves had guys in scoring position, but just couldn’t move them over and get them in. In fact, they left 13 runners on base through the first eight innings. Brutal.
It was a tough game to watch! I always text friends during Braves games, and I had asked one of them, “Why does it hurt so much when we play so badly?” He responded by saying, “We are gluttons for punishment!” No argument from me!
You’ve likely heard that baseball is a “game of failure.” It may not be the most entertaining game, but in my humble opinion, baseball is the BEST game! Players are constantly having to overcome defeat and failure and find ways to persevere.
Back to the game.
So, going to the top of the ninth inning, the Braves were down 5-3 to the Nats. Young phenom Juan Soto promptly led off with a solo shot to give Washington a 6-3 edge. I picked up the remote in disgust, and was about to turn the channel. I couldn’t bear to watch anymore. But, I had a change of heart, despite my state of mind.
In the bottom of the 9th, Markakis led off the inning getting plunked by a pitch. Then, Adam Duvall hit a bomb, closing the gap to a one-run game. “Great,” I thought to myself. “We’re going to end up losing 6-5 now.” Camargo then singled to right-center, before Hechavarria struck out and Ender flew out to right. So, Dansby Swanson comes up with two down. On a 1-0 pitch, he parked one over the centerfield wall to walk it off for the Braves! Unreal! How could I ever have doubted the outcome?
Braves play-by-play announcer Chip Caray, as well as analysts Tom Glavine and Jeff Francoeur, talked about what an ugly game it was to watch, and how the Braves still found a way to win. And, I thought to myself, “That’s ultimately what matters most – winning the game!”
At the end of the season, the Braves won’t be advance to the playoffs, nor be held out of the playoffs, by how “pretty” it was on the field. It won’t matter how many dazzling highlights are available on Twitter and YouTube. What will matter is the number in the Win column.
In the same way, we need to approach all we do in life with our eyes set on winning. It doesn’t mean it’s always going to happen, but we should strive for excellence, and we should be aware that there’s always someone watching us! We are leaving an impression on someone almost all the time. In the end, why do something if you aren’t going to give it your all?
Paul’s words in the scripture above talk about running to win the race. But, there’s a different race you and I are also running – the one that has a different sort of Finish Line. Some of us will cross that Finish Line into LIFE…while others will cross it into death. Paul wants us to know that the reward we’re racing for is far better – and longer-lasting – than the trophy we hoist or the medal hanging around our necks.
All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT)
Run hard. Run well. And chase after Jesus – for he gives us what we long for most – an eternal Home with our loving Father.
C.A. Phillips is a lifelong sports enthusiast and youth baseball coach, and currently serves as the Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Amy, and his two sons, Chaz and Chandler.
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