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Pala Larga (big bat) is actually one of the oldest of the Basque Pelota Sports: Goya did a famous painting called "The game of Pelota" (google it if interested) in 1779. The implement used in the painting is pretty much identical to the one used today. The "big bat" weighs 32-33 ounces (about the weight of the lumber that Ryan Braun and Giancarlo Stanton swing). But the Pala Larga is only 18 inches long. Almost all players use only one hand at a time. Players actually glue their fingers to the bat, and all are ambidextrous. The hitting surface is compact and the pelota is a bit smaller than a jai alai pelota, but just as lethally hard. The sport is about 10-15 mph slower than Jai Alai, but plenty fast enough. Of course it is a crash helmet sport. It is still played on the big concha, but most matches now are on the short concha (38 meters). This competition was played at Bizkaia Bilbo (Bilbao), which is, along with Mungia, the beating heart of the game. I love the sound of the game, different than any other BP sound. The loud crack of the bat is really neat, IMHO. And these guys can hit. On the run with a very small hitting surface. If you like baseball, I think you will really like this.

They just finished their League competition, 8 matches in 10 weeks, with a semi-final and final. I have written a blog post covering the entire tournament that links to 1 EITB televised match and 12 other matches that were streamed and saved by Dan Necol, one of the InnPala players. EITB is very polished, but Necol's Facebook videos are visceral, as he sets up a camera very low and behind the glass back wall at Bizkaia (this is where Goiko has won the singles tournament on a couple of occasions). You can hear the players and are almost on the court in these videos. They are great promotional material for one of the smallest organized pro BP sports (10 players on the roster).

If you have the time and inclination, check out the blog post. I have statistically de-constructed the EITB match, adding my own "saves" category to it. Compare some of the averages to Jai Alai averages and you will see that it is a sport with more errors than Jai Alai, but that is because the implement makes the pelota so hard to control. Comparative error and winner rates are some of the things I'm starting to get into as I try to watch the matches of all the modalities more closely. But just watching these natural hitters whack the pelota around 600 times in an hour is...well...take a look and see what you think.


Liga Kutxabank--Pala Larga--from beginning to end--13 full match videos

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