Haru Basho 2012: Day 14

I was a little overeager for Day 14 and I poured my glass of whiskey a bit early. (I’ve finished my Irish Honey and moved on to Bushmill’s White Labeled Irish Whiskey)  One glass led to two and two led to sleep.  So here I am (somewhat) freshly awoken, and sad to say that today’s report will come to you 10 hours after my last glass of whiskey and 10 hours before my next.

I tuned in to juryo last night and enjoyed Takamisakari getting his kachikoshi.  I miss the sound of his three barks in makuuchi and I hope he climbs back up into the big leagues.  Unless something crazy happens, I don’t think we’ll see him in Makuuchi in Natsu Basho, but if he can hold it together, maybe we will see him in Makuuchi before the end of the year.  On a side note, he seems to have added an extra surprise bark to his standard three. http://youtu.be/SOvy0du20Q0  What a great tachiai on the part of both Takamisakari and Kyokushuho.

Kimikaze also continues to look good, now at 11-3 with a win on Day 14 against the Brazilian Hulk.  I don’t know what the hell to say.  What a tachiai on the part of Kimikaze.  He was like a little frogman who sprang at Kaisai throat, spinning in the air and using his flying body as a counter balance in what seemed like an attempt to rip Kaisei’s head clean off his shoulders.  I watched this bout about 5 times.  http://youtu.be/55fgIjpZh9I

Now lets move on to bouts of interest in Makuuchi.

Asasekiryu (4-9) vs Kitataiki  (8-5) with a head-to-head of 3-3. I was kind of hoping that Kitataiki would lose this bout.  Its not that I have anything against him, its just that I want to see him ranked at around M9-10.  I think he would be really interesting at that rank, but I think that he’ll end up being boring if he gets ranked much higher.  The bout itself was a well fought, if boring bout.  No surprises, just straightforward sumo, Sexy blocks Taiki’s tachiai charge with hands on Taiki’s shoulder, Taiki gets left hand on Sexy’s belt, and moments afterward Sexy gets the same grip on Taiki’s belt.  Taiki works the feet while Sexy goes for both hands on belt.  Taiki defends his belt, and gets Sexy off balance and moving backwards.  A hug and chug and Sexy is out.

Daido (5-8) vs. Aoiyama (7-6) with a head to head of 0-1.  This bout is mainly interesting because of how it turned out.  Aoiyama loses and now finds himself with a 7-7 record going into the final day.  Well, I gave away the result, but lets look at how Aoiyama loses.  First off a false start.  Maybe its just me, but Aoiyama seems to stare down Daido like a tough guy with a chip on his shoulder.  Aoiyama is nice and low at the tachiai, and the bout explodes into a mess of arms groping for the belt.  Too bad Aoiyama forgot to look behind him.  He walks backwards out of the ring and falls off the edge.

Takanoyama (4-9) vs. Miyabiyama (7-6), this is the first time the two face each other.  The last bout was interesting because it put Aoiyama in a sink or swim position for tomorrow.  This bout was interesting because of Takanoyama.  A tsuppari start with a couple nasty blows to Takanoyama’s face before he got the windmills turning.  Both rikishi windmilling away, and then Takanoyama goes off balance and falls forward, end of bout… wait… Takanoyama grabs Miyabiyama’s arms, and recovers, but unfortunately his knees touch the… touch the… touch the… DON’T touch the ground, but now there is a lot of momentum as Takanoyama pulls on Miyabiyama’s arm.  Takanoyama is on the rope… balancing like a madman, Miyabiyama goes in for the final pushout, but Takanoyama bends to the side and avoids it.  Miyabiyama recovers just as Takanoyama is trying to get off the rope.  Miyabiyama shoves Takanoyama back onto the rope and it looks like it is all over, but Takanoyama grabs Miyabiyama’s armpit to stabilize himself.  Miyabiyama is sick of it, he throws his arms up in the air and Takanoyama is finally out.  Takanoyama is going to be great to watch down in Juryo next basho.

Tamawashi (7-6) vs. Toyohibiki (7-6) with a head-to-head of 3-4. I’ve started to like Toyohibiki this basho.  In this bout, he goes into the tachiai and gets a hand under Tamawashi’s chin, lifting up his rug-burned opponent, and charging forward.  Tamawashi gives up ground, but gets the lower position again for a second until Hibiki lifts him up at the ropes and pushes Tamawashi out.  This leaves Tamawashi in a sink or swim position going into Day 15 with a 7-7 record.

Okinoumi (7-6) vs. Goeido (10-3) with a head-to-head of 1-5.  We here at Sumo and Stogies tend to be skeptical of Japanese Hopefuls.  It seems to me that the worst thing that can happen to a rikishi is to be labeled by the Japanese Media as a Japanese Hopeful.  That said, Goeido is a good rikishi and deserves more attention than I have been giving him (despite my grudge over his win against Homasho this basho).  Okinoumi is one of the rikishi I always like to see do well.  Goeido had this bout from the beginning.  He controlled Okinoumi and pushed him out.  Goeido looking strong this basho.  Okinoumi going into Day 15 with that dreaded 7-7 sink or swim record.

Toyonoshima (9-4) vs. Shotenro (9-4), with a head-to-head of 3-0.  Shotenro started this basho off with a bang, hanging in the yusho race from down at the bottom of the banzuke for all of the first week.  Now Shotenro is getting a taste of what it is like up at the top.  Shotenro is one to keep an eye on in coming bashos.  He isn’t up to fighting the post-intermission rikishi yet, but he is looking good.  He gave Toyonoshima a run for his money today – Shotenro is going to have to work on his balance and his recovery speed if he wants to fight well up to the upper half of the banzuke.  Toyonoshima goes double digits with a win over Shotenro.

Gagamaru (4-9) vs. Homasho (9-4) with a head-to-head of 0-6.  I would always cover Homasho, of course, but today Homasho went double digits with his win over Jelly Belly.  Homasho was ready for anything and when Jelly Belly hit too low on the tachiai, Homasho used the strange physics of the pot belly to roll Gaga into a ball and leave him on the ground.

Baruto (10-3) vs. Kisenosato (8-5) with a head-to-head of 18-4.  The Baruto Express seems to have run out of steam.  Kisenosato leads the charge off the tachiai, but Baruto gets an early left hand on belt.  The two lock up, I can’t quite see what Kisenosato is holding onto there, but I think it is Bart’s belt.  He tugs it anyhow.  Bart looking to get both hands on belt, he manages it, but ends up in a standing position with Kisenosato pushing him upwards and back.  Now both rikishi have both hands on belt, and they start a game of teeter-totter.  Baruto can’t keep his hands on Kisenosato’s belt, losing his grip twice, the two move in clusterfuck formation to the edge and Baruto is out.

Kakuryu (12-1) vs Kotooshu (8-5) with a head-to-head of 13-9.  Nice tachiai by the two rikishi (I love the gyoji’s voice).  Kakuryu is low, trying to reach along the vast stretches of Kotooshu’s upper torso to get hands on belt.  He gets his grip and protects the low ground.  Kotooshu goes for a hand on the back of Kakuryu’s belt, but it won’t help him much without leverage, Kakuryu won’t let him get the leverage, but this means giving up ground.  Kotooshu smells the win and pushes Kakuryu back.  Kakuryu pulls a wonderful throw at the ropes, both rikishi rotate through the air with Kotooshu landing on bottom.  Win number 13 for Kakuryu, and with that win, he all but locks down the yusho.

Hakuho (11-2) vs Harumafuji (10-3) with a head-to-head of 23-10.  Hakuho needs to pick this bout up in order to preserve even the faint hope at pulling out the yusho.  The two face off with Haruma letting fly his usual antics.  Haruma fails to make contact with one wild thrust and loses his balance.  Hakuho guides him down to the ground.  I’ll leave the yaocho speculation to others.

To sum up, Aioyama, Tamawashi, and Okinoumi all go into the final day with a set of sevens and their kachikoshi in the balance.  Toyonoshima and Homasho joined the double digits club.  Kakuryu continued to rock out.

As for Hakuho, I think we are starting to see a bit of decline in his sumo.  Of the three rikishi he lost to last basho, he lost to two of those again this basho.  The yusho race is also now out of Hakuho’s control.  Kakuryu might lose tomorrow and Hakuho will probably win, but there is nothing Haks can do except sit and wait.

Daly can never relax until the job is done.  Its a good thing he is here to get it done tomorrow.

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