Hakuho and Harumafuji go back, and I mean way back. Before they were Hakuho and Harumafuji, they were Davaajargal and Byambadorj, and these two youngsters were sparring in the plains of Mongolia well before they even heard the word “sumo.” Anyone who’s an astute observer of the sport of sumo should well understand these two have ‘helped’ each other out when necessary. So, this brings me to what happened yesterday. It was not necessary. Haruma already had his kachikoshi, and Hakuho still had a decent shot at the yusho.
So why did it happen? My gut instinct says it was not yaocho because it was seemingly not necessary. It hardly added anything to Haruma’s standing, and it dimmed Hakuho’s chances of a yusho. On Hakuho’s end, it is very peculiar that he started so far back behind the line, and chose to come into the tachiai blazing like a cross-eyed bull. I believe, however, that this was an honest bout on Haruma’s end. Haruma saw his opponent start from backfield, barrel in at the tachiai, and split-second decision—he side stepped. Very distasteful, indeed, but the opportune moment got the best of him.
The big question for me is why did Hakuho do this tachiai? It is not at all characteristic of him. Even if Hakuho won, I think I’d be asking myself this question. If anything, this bout has raised a red flag for me that something is not right with the Dai-Yokozuna. The only injury which crops up with Hakuho is his big toe, but that hasn’t taken him out of a basho in over five years. Something just ain’t right about our Dai-Yokozuna this basho.
So with Bart’s henka yesterday as well, here’s to hoping we got all the funny bidness out of the way this basho. In the end, it’s Bart’s for the takin’, Hak’s for the regainin’, and the Satogatake Brothers for the spoilin’. So, let’s cut right to it and check the bouts with yusho implications.
EO Baruto (12-0) vs. WO Kotoshogiku (7-5): head-to-head is 12-10 in Bart’s favor, setting up for what could be a classic bout. Harite from Bart at the tachiai then Geek quick with a shallow right-hand outside and enter the hug-n-chug. Bart, however, lacked any true grip but was pulling upwards on Geek’s right elbow which helped to shake off the hug-n-chug. Bart maneuvered a right outside grip over the Geek’s left shoulder while moving his left to the Geek’s right armpit. Meanwhile, the Geek kept that shallow right outside grip and tried for hug-n-chug version 2.0, but the Estonian didn’t give an inch. He did, however, manage a left-hand inside grip, but so did the Geek. The Geek’s third hug-n-chug attempt, and Bart took that momentum to move the Geek’s center of gravity upwards, in air, and while considering a tsuridashi, he noticed the distance to the rice bales and instead chose to slam the Geek to the ground with an underarm throw win. Bart improves to 13-0, and a loss from 10-2 Hakuho today will secure his yusho.
Three bouts later with Bart watching from the shitakubeya, EY Hakuho (10-2) took on EO Kotooshu (9-3). Hak has a career 28-7 lead over the Eurozeki. Hakuho started the tachiai back at his normal distance from the shikirisen, but the two rikishi met in the middle in a rather soft tachiai, falling into equal left-hand outside, right-hand inside grips. The both let loose on Hak’s left/Oshu’s right, and attempted a throw on each other which resulting in nothing but back to stage one, except Hak failed to regain that lefthand grip. Oshu dug in and moved forward on the Yokozuna, letting go of his right-hand grip to press upwards on the Yokozuna’s chest. Hak was on the defensive trying to swat off Oshu’s right. Oshu took that right-hand to Hak’s left arm pit, and went morozashi with the Yokozuna on the bales, and over and into the first row seats. Very good win by Oshu this time. Force-out win for the Eurozeki who improves to 10-3. Hakuho also stands at 10-3, which means Baruto’s yusho has been determined on Day 13.
Moving on to other bouts of interest to me on Day 13, starting from the junior league, Em30 Sasakiyama (3-3) vs. Wm33 Kotofukuju (3-3) in a bout with “3” written all over it. Sasaki went for a deep left-hand inside, but Kotofuuk-yuu held him at bay with a morozashi. Squirming backwards all around the ring, Kotofuuk-yuu finally finishes him off with what looked like a frontal crush-out, but was called an armlock throw. A shame, but our boy from Odate will drop down a bit in Makushita next basho and needs to continue to polish his forward motion sumo. Koto[explicit]ju improves to 4-3.
Also in Makushita, the infallible Em15 Sakumayama (6-0, career 27-0) lost to Wm3 Sensho (4-2). It was a spirited bout for certain, but Sensho finished the record with an over-arm throw. Fortunately for Sakumayama, no man is undefeated in Makushita, so he’s in the yusho race along with seven others in what may turn out to be an exciting playoff come Sunday.
Moving on, but just halfway to the big show, in Juryo the story today was going to be a pair of shin-juryos at 10-2, in the lead for the yusho, and to face each other; Russian Amuru and Tokyoite Chiyotairyu. Unfortunately, Amuru must have gotten injured in his Day 12 loss to Kotoyuki, because he was a no-show. With Sotairyu also losing today and dropping to 10-3, Chiyotairyu is at 11-2 and in the lead for a Juryo Yusho with a forfeit victory.
WJ6 Takamisakari (6-6) took on fellow Aomori-native WJ1 Hochiyama (6-6): head-to-head looks like 2-0 for Hotchkiss. Hochi started off with some effective thrusts to Ringo’s throat and chest, but Ringo got his hands in and raised his opponent’s arms upwards, and slipped his right paw down to Hocheeze’s shoulder. With a pull on the shoulder blade, Ringo was able to twist his opponent around and escort him out with a rear push-out win. Ringo improves to 7-6—one shy of a kachikoshi, while Hoochie falls to 6-7.
And finally, to the Majors,where EM5 Myogiryu (8-4) has been rockin’ in his sophomore basho. Today he took on EM12 Yoshiazuma (3-9). Forget timing at the start of this tachiai, as the gyoji and all judges must have been asleep. Myogi wasn’t, as he carried on hands on the nipples and drove Yoshi straight out with a oshidashi win. Myogiryu improves to an impressive 9-4. Maybe just one more win will do it to be sansho-worthy this basho.
ES Kakuryu (8-4) just about lost his balance upon impact with WM1 Amanishiki (7-5), but quickly regrouped and put on his tsuppari cap, laying Sneaky with some nice blows to the face. Sneaky backed up but not out, so the Kak finished him off with a pull-down. Kak improves to a nice shukunsho-worthy 9-4 while Sneaky falls to a respectable 7-6.
WM4 Tochinowaka (7-5) vs. WO Kisenosato (9-3): Kissy kept square with chin-music for Tochi who was relenting while vying for grips. It turned into a mawashi battle and Tochi is still no match for Kissy in weight or skill. Force out win for the shin-ozeki, who improves to 10-3. Tochi must wait for kachikoshi, with a 7-6.
EK Miyabiyama (3-9) vs. WO Harumafuji (9-3): head-to-head goes 11-6 in Ama’s favor, and today McFlubby’s kitty punches were gentle taps for Haruma who tossed him around the ring and led him out force-out win. Haruma improves to 10-3 while McFlubby falls to 3-10.
There it ‘tis for Day 13. I didn’t expect I’d be reporting who got the yusho on this day, and I certainly didn’t expect that gentleman to be Baruto. Day 12 aside, and I’d call it a well earned yusho, and it also thwarted the JSA’s plans to orchestrate a yusho for Kissy.
Come back tomorrow to see if they let Chalmers out of the booby hatch.