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The simple joy of watching sport

Life has a way of making you see things differently very quickly.

Yesterday was mired in swear-filled frustration at the England cricket team’s inability to tell one end of their bat from the other until I channel-hopped over to the Denmark-Finland game and briefly saw what was unfolding on the pitch.

Thankfully it appears that Denmark’s Christian Eriksen is recovering well, but the shock of the traumatic event was another reminder of how sport can be both completely insignificant and so important too.

The stresses we put ourselves through over performances and results is part of why we come back time and time again, yet really it’s the simple communal joy of watching football, cricket or baseball that matters most.

I took that spirit into the A’s game last night (UK time) against the Kansas City Royals. Although it didn’t really matter if we won or lost, the 11-2 victory couldn’t help but raise spirits given the way it came about.

James Kaprielian had almost become the forgotten man in the A’s farm system, the last remaining piece from the Sonny Gray trade who had now reached an age where he was either going to start showing he could be a Big League starting pitcher or we would all have to accept it was unlikely to ever happen.

Kap has been tremendous in his six starts and yesterday’s performance typified his qualities. It wasn’t an over-powering, dominant outing that would leave non-A’s fans talking him up. He ran into bases-loaded trouble in the third and fourth innings as his command escaped him for a spell, yet he kept his composure to get out of those jams and then got back on track in the fifth and sixth innings.

It was simply a good, solid outing that set the platform for the A’s to win a game. That’s not eye-catching to outsiders, but it’s precisely what a winning team is all about.

Of course, you need some offense to go alongside the pitching and – praise the Lord – the guy we were all desperate to get going appears to be heating up.

Matt Chapman is a legitimate All-Star level player thanks to his superlative defense at third base; however there was no disguising the fact that his injury-shortened season last year and first two months of this campaign were raising questions as to whether his bat was quite at the level that we all hoped it would be.

Well his better approach at the plate over the past month is now starting to bear fruit and it’s a delight to witness. An all-firing Chappy alongside his fellow Matt in the line-up is a World Series calibre duo at the second and third spots in the batting order. Chapman and Olson went a combined 7-for-10 with 7 RBI in yesterday’s game, the type of pitching demolition act that doesn’t just win you games, but puts the pitching staffs of other teams on notice.

And if you want even more reason for optimism, it came before the game when Ramón Laureano took batting practice on the field for the second consecutive day. It looks like the plan is for him to play a few games for the Las Vegas Aviators this coming week before re-joining the A’s in New York on Friday.

With our sparkplug back in the line-up and making great plays in centrefield, Mark Canha continuing to be one of the best lead-off hitters in baseball, and Tony Kemp coming alive in glorious fashion recently, the A’s are a great team to watch.

And yesterday proved once again how lucky we are to have that simple joy in our lives.

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