Ever wonder how many calories you burn while playing jai-alai? And do you ever wonder how it compares to other sports or activities?
Well, the website Gigacalculator.com recently came out of a listing on the best ways to drop calories while exercising or playing sports. And yes, jai-alai is near the top.
A 190-pounder will drop 1,035 calories in one hour of playing jai-alai, according to a study released by the Wisconsin Department of Health. Only 4 other activities were noted to be ahead of that.
Uphill cross-county skiing is tops at 1,423 calories getting burned in just one hour of time. Coming in second was Competitive Speed Skating and Running upstairs – tied at 1,294 calories getting burned for a 190-pounder. Stationary Bicycling was next at 1,078.
Jai-alai was tied with sports like Team Handball, Boxing, Squash, and a few other activities at 1,035.
Here is how jai-alai breakdowns in various weights in burning calories:
190 pounds 1,035
155 pounds 844
130 pounds 708
Here is the backdown of all activities listed by the Wisconsin Department of Health (calories lost per hour, 190 pounder):
Uphill Cross-country Skiing 1,423
Running up Stairs 1,294
Competitive Speed skating 1,294
Stationary Bicycling 1,078
Team Handball 1,035
Jumping Rope 1,035
Competitive Canoeing/Crewing 1,035
We’re not sure how the WDH tested for the jai-alai number out in Wisconsin, but I’m sure its pretty accurate. I also wonder if those numbers change if you’re playing in an air-conditioned building or outside at Puryear Park in St. Petersburg in 105-feel like heat.
I was surprised no other sport was listed on this article – like soccer, basketball, hockey, or swimming. One would think the calories would rack in in those activities.
Check out Gigacalculator’s website for all kinds of calculations like interest, loan, fuel cost, age, percent off, discount, tips, various measurements, and how many calories are lost needed to lose weight vs what you eat and drink.
The third annual USNJAC event was held this past weekend at Magic City Jai-alai in Miami with tens of thousands of dollars at stake. The 3-day event attracted players from all over the country with the majority coming from the hotbeds where jai-alai lives on – the Miami area, Tampa Bay area and Connecticut NE area.
The Masters Division composed of all amateur and former professional players who have not played professionally since December 31, 2016 and professionals who are age 50 and over. Once again, Matt Domizio took the singles title, with a 7-4 win over James Langhans (the father of current Magic City star players Douglas and Benny). Langhans, a former pro himself, played like Felix the Cat, reaching into his “bag of tricks” with an arsenal of kill shots, but 3 of those shots went off the court or hit the pad. Matt, playing under the name of “Goya” once again, was his usual catching machine, hardly dropping a ball all weekend. Last year, Matt won the singles, again beating Langhans, who played under the name of Douglas I, by the score of 7-6.
In doubles, the Connecticut team of DeCarlo and Lasa defeated the team of Rastock and Conrado 7-6. Rastock, another catching machine-like Matt, got burnt a few times throwing some soft ones but Lasa was able to run them down and score. The final point ended when Rastock just nipped the top of the front pad on game point for both teams.
The Friday action started promptly at 10:01am and lasted 7 hours and 20 minutes but was never boring with non-stop action. Saturday featured the professional division, with finals for both the Master and Pro divisions on Sunday.
When the event ended, about 10 of the players from Connecticut and Tampa Bay made the four-hour drive to get some action in on the St. Pete Court. That Joe P guy (Petro) can catch!
The 3rd Annual USNJAC ended on Sunday, August 21st, with (2) sets of Magic City Jai-Alai brothers making it a complete sweep of the entire $25,000 in Pro Tourney prize money.
Pro Singles Championship:
1st Place to Inaki defeating Aratz 9-3 to win $7,500, 2nd Place was $2,500
Pro Doubles Championship:
1st Place to brothers Goixerri-Aratz over brothers Inaki-Julen 9-6 to win $10,000, 2nd Place was $5,000
Here is the total Pro Tourney prize money breakdown for these 4-players, all on the Magic City Jai-Alai roster (Note: Doubles Tourney prize money is split between players):
Inaki – $10,000
Aratz – $7,500
Goixerri – $5,000
Julen – $2,500
Last year Douglas won over Inaki (Dania’s Goitia at that time) in the Pro Singles Finals. Inaki suffered an injury late in the match, breaking two bones in his hand. After Dania closed in November 2021, Magic City extended an offer to Goitia to join the Magic City Jai-Alai roster and he was fully recovered and started playing at the start of the 10-week short-season on February 14th this year. Inaki has been the hottest singles player in late game feature Pelota games 6 & 8 (pari-mutuel games) over the last 2-months with his leading 22.0%-win rate (50-11-6-10). Inaki also had the highest % ITM for late game Pelota singles in the last 2-months, 54.0%, which was tied with Douglas for the highest. He proved at the USNJAC Pro Tourney he is indeed one of the top US short-court players in the country, if not the best!
Dania’s top star Erik failed to advance to the Final Four in Pro Singles when he experienced the well-established “Curse of Julen,” losing 7-6. Julen has a history of surprise upsets and key-point wins over top contenders at Magic City, including both Douglas and Goixerri. Previously, Erik had won against RonRon 7-4 in Round 2 of the Pro Singles Tourney after given a bye in Round 1.
Other strong contenders: Douglas, Manu, Goixerri and Zulaika surprised many fans by none of them making the Pro Singles Finals. Douglas, winner of last year’s Pro Singles Tourney had been playing exceptionally well lately, winning both games 6 & 8 of the Pelota games on August 14th, which was the last day of games before the USNJAC. Douglas had a bye in Round 1 and then lost to Aratz in the next round 7-6. Manu had beaten Kubala and then Jairo both by near shut-out scores of 7-1, making it to the Final Four where he got knocked-out by Inaki 7-3. Likewise, Goixerri, a very strong front-court player and current leader of the Magic City Singles Championship, got a bye in Round 1 and then handily beat the young, back-court player Benny, 7-0, but then failed against the experienced veteran Manu, where Manu won handily by a score of 7-4. Zulaika won his Round 1 match 7-3 against Master’s Singles finalist, Douglas I, the former pro player James Langhans who is father of brothers Matt & Ben Langhans (aka Magic City players Douglas & Benny). Zulaika then met the Invincible Inaki in Round 2 who quickly sent him packing with a score of 7-1.
The Pro Doubles Championship Sunday turned out to be the (3) Magic City brother teams in the Final Four plus Dania’s best team of Erik-Ladutxe, the 2nd Place winners in last year’s USNJAC Pro Doubles. Note that Ladutxe now plays at Magic City Jai-Alai in 2022 under the name Manu, thus the team of Erik-Manu this year. The brothers’ teams were Douglas-Benny (last year’s Pro-Doubles winners), Inaki-Julen and Goixerri-Aratz. Inaki-Julen out-scored Douglas-Benny 7-4 to reach the Finals and Goixerri-Aratz defeated Erik-Manu 7-3 for the other Finals spot. Fans were treated to an incredible match ultimately won by Goixerri-Aratz by a score of 9-6.
Congratulations to the Magic City brother winners and a big thanks to Magic City Fronton and sponsors Betrivers & Cigar City Brewing Jai-Alai IPA for this great event which unites the best Jai-Alai players in the USA to display their mastery of the fascinating sport of Jai-Alai! The announcing team of Stu and Andrew did a fantastic job covering the USNJAC and deserve major kudos along with Scott and Lindsay Savin and the rest of the support crew, including those responsible for the amazing video shots! The back glass wall allows for some close-up angles of Jai-Alai matches that have never been seen before! Be sure to watch the replays on watchjaialai.com if you missed the live Jai-Alai matches over the weekend (tip – click “Browse” on the website).
Magic City Pelota games return on Sunday, August 28th at 1:30-pm with Jai-Alai H2H Doubles matchups following at 5-pm. Be sure to enter the weekly Fantasy Jai-Alai H2H contest and to be there for the live viewing of Pelota and H2H on Sunday the 28th at the Magic City Fronton if you can make it! Also, be sure to note the schedule change for Pelota and H2H games starting in September! No more Sunday Jai-Alai as it’s tough to compete with the NFL. There are 2022 calendar links on the Magic City website and on SayHiLi.
In 1987, while enjoying pollo asado for lunch at Versailles restaurant on S.W. 8th Street in Little Havana, Paul Rico said, “You should join John’s Rotisserie Baseball league.” John was Paul’s son, recent graduate from Boston College and working for World Jai-Alai. I asked, “What the hell is Rotisserie Baseball?” only knowing I liked rotisserie chicken at Pollo Tropical.
In 1980, a small group of friends, one of which was a huge baseball fan, created a game while dining at their favorite French restaurant in New York, La Rotisserie Francaise. It involved the statistics of individual players during the baseball season. This innocent diversion evolved into a multi-million-dollar industry monopolizing the time of a huge segment of the American population later to be called “Fantasy Sports.”
I had almost no interest in baseball. I was a casual fan of the White Sox and the Reds growing up, mainly because they trained in Tampa. Baseball was too slow, could not compare to football. But Rico convinced me to do it.
My college roommate and closest friend, Mike Singer, was a big Dodger fan. I asked him if he would be my partner in the league and help me with the draft. He immediately accepted.
Next thing you know, I became familiar with every player in the American League (our Fantasy League was American League-only). I could recite their batting averages. I learned starting pitchers from closers. Mike and I even could name the prospects in the minors. All because of Fantasy Baseball. (My love affair with Fantasy Baseball would continue for 25 years.)
Almost 15 years later, I’m sitting in my office at Dania Jai-Alai frustrated. John Knox (GM) and I have tried everything to bring back the disappearing Jai-Alai fans. We have had multiple Jai-Alai tournaments with rival Miami. Sure, we would get a bump in attendance the nights of the tournaments. But nothing seemed to carry over beyond that.
Dania Jai-Alai’s best promotion was called “Secret Saturday,” where fans would get an envelope when entering the fronton. The envelope contained discounts, prizes, and a free bet that could be anywhere from $2 to $500. This promotion would attract a huge crowd… but only for that night.
There just wasn’t anything that could seem to rekindle the interest in our sport since the strike. Cheap hot dogs and beer, free promotional gifts, free admission… nothing. We were facing an ever-growing expansion of Indian gaming and other competition. Frontons throughout the state were all in a downward spiral and it appeared we could not hold on much longer.
I had one idea that had never been tried. I was waiting for the right time to pitch it to John and owner Steve Snyder. The idea was Fantasy Jai-Alai! And this was the time.
One problem for me was that “fantasy” sports was still in its infancy. It still had not become mainstream. Some articles had been written about it, but few really had heard of Rotisserie Baseball. Fantasy Football was almost unknown. I needed approval for prize money and a way to track the Fantasy Jai-Alai statistics. I, also, had to come up with a complete structure for this brainchild. But the most important thing would be a full endorsement of the project by not only John and Steve, but by everyone on the staff.
So, I sat at my desk and created the first Fantasy Jai-Alai League ever. I put together a short presentation for Snyder and Knox showing them how, with this small investment (about $7,500), we could get fans interested again in the players. This would lead to them wanting to watch them in a live setting, hoping they do well for their fantasy picks, and ultimately making bets on them. This, in my opinion, was the only way to, again, create fan interest and possibly bring back the business. It worked for me in baseball.
My next step before seeing them was to talk to Manny, our computer consultant, who had set up the Dania stats system. Manny was one of the smartest guys I knew, and he was a Gator. We hit it off from the beginning. Could Manny make a simple way for us to track hundreds of Fantasy Jai-Alai teams with a variety of statistical categories? Within days, Manny called me and said he had found a simple way for us to do it, utilizing our nightly inputs for our regular stats.
I set up a meeting with Snyder and Knox to make my “pitch.” The first thing I showed them was a Sports Illustrated article saying there were about 4 million Fantasy Sports fans throughout the country. Then, I reminded them that we have always been trying to not only create new fans but bring back the old ones. All the frontons had been trying to make the players a major focus. This would lead to more attendance, more betting. Fantasy Jai-Alai could accomplish this. Plus, Fantasy Sports are dominated by younger sport’s fans. We needed “new blood.”
They stared at me. John Knox was vaguely familiar with the onset of Fantasy Baseball. Steve had never heard of it. Steve’s first question was cost. “I believe we need to have at least $6,000 in prize money and no charge to enter,” I told him. I really wanted a lot more but was afraid to scare him away. “Then, there will be some costs in promotional flyers, peripheral printing costs,” I said. “Probably need about $7,500 to budget.”
Finally, after a pause, Steve said that they would think about it. I was happy that he didn’t immediately say “no.” But, at this truly minimal cost to save our sport, I was amazed that neither was as excited as I was. Could it be I was living in a fantasy? Was there anything that could rejuvenate Jai-Alai? I was sure Fantasy Jai-Alai was the answer… would I get my chance to try it?
The 3rd Annual USNJAC Tourney begins on Friday with the Master’s Division on Day 1 (10-am EST start) with finals on Sunday. The Pro Division won’t start until Saturday (11-am EST start) and concludes on Sunday (noon start on Sunday).
Magic City’s brother team of Douglas-Benny will be defending their 2021 Pro Doubles Championship title. Last year they conquered the favored Erik-Ladutxe team 9-7 in the finals, taking home 1st place prize money. This year should be even better with Ladutxe, known as Manu on the Magic City roster, having grown more accustomed to the Magic City short court since joining the Magic City roster at the start of 2022 and the young Benny having gained more experience.
The “amazing scoop champ” Douglas will be defending his 2021 Pro Singles Championship title. Last year Douglas defeated Goitia by a score of 9-4 in the Pro Singles finale. Goitia, now playing on the Magic City roster as Inaki, was injured in last year’s finale against Douglas. Inaki has been playing some of his best Jai-Alai at Magic City in recent weeks and Douglas won both late singles games in Pelota action on Sunday, August 14th, so both appear to be in top form for this weekend’s matches. Goitia (Inaki) defeated Dania’s Erik last year in the semi-finals by a score of 7-4. The competition should be even tougher for Erik this year should he accept the challenge.
A new serious contender for the USNJAC Pro Singles Championship title is Goixerri who joined the Magic City roster in early 2022. Goixerri currently leads the Magic City 2022 Singles Championship with 35-singles wins, an impressive 23.8% wins overall, and has been a super-star in late singles games, however, in the last month he’s been in a slump, winning only two of 26-singles games. Goixerri could easily be a huge threat in this tournament with some decent prize money at stake! Currently, Carballo is 2nd in the Magic City Pelota Singles Championship with 34-wins and Douglas is 3rd with 29-wins).
SayHiLi will be covering and reporting on the Pro Division results this year, however, will not be covering the Masters Division (amateur). We expect Jeff “Laca” Conway will be covering that angle with his site, PelotaPress.com, which is the leading site with info and support of US amateur Jai-Alai.
Contestants and match-ups for the 3rd Annual USNJAC could be released by as soon as Wednesday evening, based on last year, and will be posted on SayHiLi ASAP. This will be the first year where live attendance is allowed. Doors open for fans a half-hour before the start time.
Watch the event on watchjaialai.com this year if you cannot attend (not on YouTube JAC like last two years).
Friday night, August 5th, marked the first Battle Court draft selection event for the Battle Court II 2022 season which starts on Friday night, September 23rd where the Cesta Cyclones face-off against the Chula Chargers. The draft event took place on the Magic City Jai-Alai court at 6:45 pm with each of the 4-squad owners making the final decision on which player to draft to complete their 6-player squads. Each squad had previously locked-in 3-players from the BC I 2022 season and the remaining 3-players for each squad were selected via the draft process.
Here are the initial 3-players for the squads prior to the draft selection process:
Here is the draft selection order for the 3-remaining players for each squad and the players who were drafted by each squad.
Below is the final grid showing the Round 1-6 players for each of the Battle Court squads:
The selection process started shortly after the event started at 6:45-pm and lasted until the 12th draft pick which was announced around 7:30-pm EST.
Singles games for Battle Court H2H matches will involve Round 1-players playing against each other, Round 2 players playing against each other…..down to Round 6 players playing against each other. Doubles team pairings for each of the 4-Battle Court squads were made by the squads after the live coverage of the event ended, so those aren’t yet available for this article.
The event was broadcast on watchjaialai.com where H2H games can be viewed live on the internet or watched at a later time. Andrew Blechman announced the event for the on-line viewers while Magic City COO, Scott Savin, announced the draft selections to those in attendance. There will also be some ESPN3 coverage of Battle Court II H2H matches on Friday nights coming this fall. Here are a few other photos from this first draft event! Congratulations Magic City fronton on a great and professional event!
Ft. Pierce Jai-alai is officially gone. The wrecking balls were out there in late July, and the beloved fronton which hosted thousands of games over the years, is nothing but dust.
Special thanks to Jacob Walden, President of the Professional Jai-alai Association sent us these pictures and is getting the museum (along with a few others), a hunk of the front wall to go on display.
Looking closely at these photos, you can get a rare view of the thickness of the front wall made out a granite with the green paint in front of it.
Miami Jai-Alai was dubbed “The Yankee Stadium of Jai-Alai.” I’m really not sure who came up with that moniker, but from a historical perspective, it seemed true. Miami Jai-Alai was the oldest facility in the U.S. The past players were legendary. The Yankees had Ruth and Gehrig. Miami had Churruca and Orbea. The Yankee rosters dominated baseball for years. The Miami Jai-Alai rosters featured the premier players in the world, seemingly unmatched by any other fronton. But, now I was in Dania.
Dania Jai-Alai was known as “The Palace.” It seemed to be a high end facility, almost snobbish. In the early years, you weren’t allowed in the lower lobby without a sport coat. Sports stars and celebrities made frequent visits. I even saw a picture of Babe Ruth standing with a cesta in the Dania lobby. They even had a special seating area in the middle called “The Royal Box.” Dania, also, had their past Jai-Alai stars.
“Egurbide (known here as Egurbi) was, by far, the greatest player ever to play on a Dania roster,” commented Richie Berenson, grandson of Richard Berenson, original founder of Miami Jai-Alai. “He was world class!”
Alex, another past star of Dania, was unable to sign with Miami due to his brother Solozabal inking a Miami contract. “In the late 60s, my father (Buddy Berenson, then in charge at Miami) loved both Alex and Solozabal,” Richie remembers. “We signed Solozabal. Brothers couldn’t play against each other in the same game so Alex signed with Dania.” It definitely worked out for Alex as he became a great Dania champion.
I began to see a completely different perspective joining Dania Jai-Alai. Having watched Tampa’s Bolivar become a force in the sport, I seemed to almost ignore the talent at the other frontons, with the exception of Miami. I knew the greatest roster ever was at “The Yankee Stadium.” Famous names like Churruca, Chimela, and Orbea were just a few of the names that made up this unbelievable roster.
But, now I see names exhibited on the Champions Plaque in the Dania lower lobby: Alex, Egurbi, Echaniz, Uribar, Boniquen, Felix, and, of course, Joey (who set wins records in every category and had his number, #37, retired at Dania). Dania did have some stellar players. And, they still do.
I had been close with many of the Tampa players, especially my “brother” Jose Solaun. I got to know plenty of the Miami players, too. But, I hardly knew this new generation of players in Dania. Plus, I was doubtful they were anywhere close to the caliber I had seen at World Jai-Alai. I was wrong.
I began to watch a young frontcourter named Arriaga, who seemed to be almost unbeatable, the way Bolivar was in Tampa. Arriaga possessed tremendous strength in his forehand throws (like Boli) and moved into precise position making the game look easy. Arriaga spoke fairly good English and I found him to be friendly and extremely cooperative with management. If he could avoid injury, his name would appear on that plaque for many years to come.
Another player in Dania I got to know and really like was the nephew of player manager Jose Arregui. He played under the name Arregui. Though short in stature, Arregui possessed amazing kill shots. He always gave 100% effort and became a fan favorite, as well as one of mine.
Then, I found out that we had an Olympian on the roster, Celaya. Celaya played for the Spanish team as Jai-Alai was an exhibition sport when the Olympic Games were in Spain. Celaya spoke perfect English and I loved the way he played the game. He was very welcoming to me in my early years at Dania.
While Miami had some hard throwing backcourters on their past rosters (Elorduy being one of them), Dania had two characters in the backcourt, Achotegui and Cuvet. I call them characters because they were. “Acho” was this dark haired, really good looking athlete, and he knew it. He had plenty of talent, but looked better on our billboards. Cuvet had amazing power and could dominant opponents. Both were French Basques, which sometimes caused problems with the Spanish Basques. But, Cuvet was a great partner as he won some tournaments for Dania due to his fierce competitiveness and raw power.
One of the first things I found out in my new role at Dania was that Steve Snyder and John Knox were very serious about having good players on the Dania roster. Signing Joey, after his contract dispute with World Jai-Alai, was a sure sign they wanted the best for Dania, even though the business was still in a tailspin. World Jai-Alai was shrinking and now held little leverage in signing the top players.
Could Dania Jai-Alai, “The Dodgers” of Jai-Alai, make Miami, “The Yankees,” just a past memory? Thus, began one of my first duties for Dania, setting up a “Dania-Miami Challenge” tournament between the two frontons. I now had to call my old friend, Dan Licciardi, and make it happen.