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Hi all. I'm still here, was wiped out by flu for about 2 weeks. Better now. Amazing how something so infinitesimally small (need an electron microscope to see it) can just take over one's entire body. Party time for the virus. Wipe out time for me. Am behind in everything, but will catch up gradually. While I am, I would like to point you to a great Pala Larga (big bat) Final match, played on the 38 meter (glass back wall) concha at Bizkaia Bilbo (Bilbao) on January 4. It took EITB about a month to put the match up on their "Ala Carta" menu (after I pestered them a little bit) but it is there.

Dan Necol-Inaki Urrutia (blue) v Estaban Gaubeka-Ibon Garate (red).


Will link directly below.

The link connects not only to the Final full match video, but to the Semi-Final fmv and 10 other fmv's (this was a double round robin contested by 5 teams, so 8 total "Liga" matches)--these 10 were filmed by one of the players, Dan Necol, on his facebook page--they are not commercial quality (semi and Final are great commercial quality), but they are great in that he puts a camera behind the back wall glass at floor level and you get a visceral feel for how fast the modality is. Link also connects to match articles, stats, analysis, etc. Also links to info about history of the tournament, with links covering finals back to 2006. One of my more arduous efforts. End of shameless plug.

For those of you who don't know, Pala Larga has been played with the same implement since at least the late 18th Century (Goya did a painting in late 1790s, the implement is identical to the one used today), and played professionally since 1904. The implement weighs between 32 and 34 ounces (about the weight most baseball power hitters bats weigh), but is condensed into 18 inches of length. A long thin handle and a small round but flat hitting area. Very difficult to control the shots and the rebote in this sport is by far the most difficult rebote in all of BP. These guys carry the bat with them all over the court, actually glue it to their hand, hit it with either hand (ambidextrous--only one player, Gaubeka (42 years old btw and still one of the best in the business) uses a backhand regularly). They must chase down pelotas, off back and front foot. This doubles match (best 3 of 5 sets to 10) had 530 balls in play. So you might have to hit the pelota 150-200 times in a little over an hour. Without holding the bat in 2 hands, without standing there waiting for a pitch (and certainly without garbage cans banging ). Ball comes off the wall at all angles, just like Jai Alai, and speeds are a little slower (maybe 80-95 mph), but plenty fast enough. A crash helmet sport for sure. It's not Jai Alai, but then nothing is. It has a distinct sound due to the "crack of the bat." It is, I think, very entertaining. And these guys are as good of hitters as anyone in the world, IMHO.


Pala Larga Liga Kutxabank Final--FULL MATCH VIDEO

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