This is a current awareness blog that links to the latest sources of information on Basque Pelota matches and Tournaments. It covers both North and South Basque modalities: Mano, Main Nue, Pala, Paleta, Remonte, Cesta Punta, Jai Alai, and minor modalites. We link to match articles, statistics and video highlights and/or full match videos.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Jai Alai/Cesta Punta--Aritz' Streak of Most Weekly Wins Ends at Eight

Aritz Erkiaga has been doing something pretty special at Miami Jai Alai this season. With the season just past the half-way point, he has a chance for an unheard of 300 victories. While that is only a remote possibility, he has a realistic chance at 250. To give that number some context, last season, which ran from July 1-December 31, 2016, Aritz had the most wins at Miami with 214. The season before that (ended June 30, 2016), Eric Irastorza had the most wins with 205.

At the heart of this projected win total was a period from February 13-April 3, 2017. Aritz either led outright (7 weeks) or shared the lead (1 week) for 8 consecutive weeks with win totals of 11, 15, 15, 15, 10, 19, 17, and 12. During that time he had two performance streaks of 24 and then 25 consecutive performances with at least 1 win. The streaks were separated by 1 performance where he did not win, meaning he won in 49 of 50 performances. This is astonishing.

For the week ending April 10, Aritz did not win the most games. By now, that is almost as astonishing as the eight weeks he did win. But the real story, a story that is hard to believe, is who did win the most games.

Aizarna, a 35 year old long time veteran front court man, had 11 wins this week. Aritz had 10. Aizarna, according to Tiger of Tiger's Chalk Talk Discussion Board (who produces weekly statistics for the Board), has not been a weekly leader for over 5 years.

Aizarna is a journeyman who comes to work every day and plays his games. He's the kind of player that is needed to put on 12 quiniela games a day for 6 days a week. Doubles matches require 16 players, singles matches require 8. Aizarna does not win much but he plays a lot. As of April 10, Aizarna had played 442 games this season (compared to Aritz' 497). Aizarna had won 28 games as of April 10,

But Aizarna had a great week by any standard. At the heart of that great week were two performances where he won 4 games, for a little less than 80% of  his total wins. And that is not an easy thing to do. Going into the last day of the Miami week  Aizarna had 10 wins to Aritz' 8. Aizarna played in the early games, Aritz the late games that day. Aizarna finished his week with 1 win, so Aritz needed to win 3 times in his 5 games to tie for the lead and keep his weekly leader streak alive. He needed 4 to win the weekly leader outright. A tall order, but during the last eight weeks Aritz has won more than 3 games in a performance 19 times. This time he came up short. He won only 2, and so Aizarna was the weekly leader for the week ending April 10. And Aritz' 8 week leader streak came to an end.

One of the fans of Miami Jai Alai created a video of the 4th game of the April 9 performance. The video is of high quality. The 4th game is a grueling 9 point game (most Miami games are played to 7 points). It is interesting in that Aritz and his partner Spinner played head to head against Aizarna and his partner Santiso. Aizarna is in the 6 Post and Aritz is in the 8. Neither of them won this game. When you are having the kind of season Aritz is having, you don't make many mistakes. But he did make one in this game (7:36--7:42 on the video). It was a dropped catch, the kind of error that is almost inevitable during the hundreds of games professional quiniela jai alai players play. A momentary lapse in concentration. The way the game turned out, Aritz had another chance, but his team was beaten in a matchup by a winner from another player after a point that consumed 14 balls in play. He ended up 2nd in this game. For the game, by my count, he had 3 winners and 1 error. Would he have won had he not erred? And what would the weekly standings have looked like if he had? We don't know. But that simple error highlights as much as anything just how amazingly well Aritz has been playing this season. The quiniela form harshly punishes errors. Aritz is the one who has been doing the punishing at Miami. Aizarna had a pretty good game too, with 2 winners. And by the end of the week, an incredible streak had been broken by a player who had a great week of his own.

MY ARTICLE: Miami Jai Alai April 9, Game 4--complete enhanced linescore

For more information on each weekly wins leader at Miami Jai Alai see the Maimi Jai Alai weekly leaders page on the right side of the blog.