Update on new ball Posted on July 23, 2017 at 05:45:24 PM by Jeff "Laca" Conway
The new ball they were using was sent to them last week by me and the NJAA.
Their yellow "SAKO" like baseball batting practice ball cracked at the end of game 6. When you use those balls for a period of time, or when it's humid out, they get hot inside from getting wacked against a wall after awhile. Simple physics will cause it to eventual crack.
With the glass wall breaking in the past, they have to use a soft ball. I sent them two balls last week - one a similar version of the SAKO ball - called the Tedrick Ball. Named after Paul Tedrick, a former pro player in Ocala who had played on our amateur courts in the late 80s and early 90s. In 2010 or so, he developed a ball similar to the SAKO ball and we used it briefly on the St.Pete Puryear Park court where he also played at.
The other ball I sent them was from a batch of a few hundred balls that were made for our court and Matt's in Connecticut about a year and a half ago, but the batch was too soft and light. I kept 18 of them for intent to use them in the future for practice or beginner balls on a future court I plan to build soon. Matt returned the rest to the manufacturer, who made a new batch for us that were harder and faster and continue to be used today on both our courts.
Games 7 and 8 were used with the soft Matt ball and seemed to play alright according to Jesus, the players and management. It is harder than the SAKO/Tedrick ball and there is still the concern of it breaking a panel, but they have ordered more from me and will continue to use it.
An interesting note, Tevin took the ball and soaked it in Flex Seal, that stuff you see that Billy Mays replacement guy selling that seals up leaks and stuff. This made the ball heavier, and then they wrapped white electrical tape around it - like we do with the harder Matt ball.
The Tedrick ball is now used as a practice ball. I believe the soft Matt ball will hold up without an issues, but as far as how the front wall holds up, is another issue. I have not seen the court, but was on a jai-alai dream trip at Ft. Piece (with visits later that day at Dania and Miami jai-alai) when I got the news they were not going to open on their original opening day that Sunday.
The manufacturers in Spain are still looking for a solution and might have something to test soon that they hope fix the problem.
While many are not happy with these amateur courts (and understandingly), there are more coming with Magic City converting the dog track to jai-alai, another one going in downtown Miami and possibly another one going up in Broward. While they are more like "amateur" courts - and are used for reasons we all know - it will at least keep jai-alai alive out there and could be used as amateur courts in the future to develop and market the sport to the youth - something that has been lacking for decades.
Perhaps jai-alai could make a comeback in the future. Studies show that young people today will have no interest in slot machines and that is clearly evident in Vegas with interest increasing in entertainment and dining vs. those slot machines. The real killer, however, was clearly the lottery, and that is never going to die.