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The Swift and the Dying

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The third match brings more of the same. Scotty makes a bad serve to an opponent, who knocks him out with one quick return. Game four, fourth place.

Then in the sixth game, Scotty's last of the night, something clicks. He and a partner are stuck in the seventh position. As the match unfolds, someone yells, "Come on, Scotty!" Quick as you please, Scotty's partner slings a hard shot that one adversary narrowly misses and the other has to duck to avoid. Then Scotty wings a slick return, and the fan's voice is back: "Come on, Scotty! Stay alive out there!" and for an instant, you can glimpse what this game once was. Klier may never have been a legitimate savior for the sport, but with enough players like him -- homegrown, affable, capable -- he could have slowed jai alai's slide into anonymity. If Amendment 4 can bring the slot hounds through the door and introduce them to an exotic pastime, perhaps there will be more money and recognition to inspire future Scottys.

At this point in Scotty's match, a remarkable string of luck arrives. First an opponent's return sails too high and nails the puffy red pad above the front wall with a thunderous THOOOM. Then the mistake is repeated. "All the way, Scotty!" comes the yell.

On the potential game point, Scotty digs out a return and wings it into the corner. It comes back over the head of his opponent, Larrea. Scotty and his partner complete the improbable sweep from the seventh post, a dynamic win.

If anyone claps, they don't do it audibly. As the players trot off to the locker room, though, someone in the middle rows shouts to Larrea: "You're the worst player on the floor!" Larrea turns, looks back, and says nothing. Just ahead of him, Scotty trots off, head down, a winner paying $16.40, $8 to show, $6.40 to place.

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Sam Eifling
Contact: Sam Eifling

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