Its been a busy four months for me, and I haven’t had a chance to keep up more than passing tabs on sumo until last week. I was at the liquor store pondering what bottle of whiskey to buy. I skimmed over the plush bottles I used to drink without a thought back in my single days when money was always a second thought. I was tempted. I really was, but instead I moved down the aisle towards where they store the Dickle. I stopped before I got there, realizing that it has been a long while since I drank a good rye whiskey. I made my purchase, a bit of a compromise, instead of a good rye whiskey, I bought myself a “not bad” rye whiskey.
Armed with my bottle of Bulleit Rye, I settled into a week on catching up on what has happened in the world of sumo. As I read along, I was struck by Harumafuji being in the spotlight for yokozuna promotion… wait wasn’t that last year? Yes, yes it was. I got to thinking that for this warm-up we should take a little trip back in time to see what’s different and what’s the same.
All right, so Haruma was right where he is now. Of course, last year there seemed to be an invisible leash on the foreign rikishi as a somewhat stale race towards ozeki unfolded between two domestic rikishi at the expense of more than one Mongolian. This year, that invisible leash seems to have frayed to the point of breaking. The question is: will Harumafuji break that leash and claim the Yokozuna title, perhaps with a bit of help from his friend, the White Ho?
The three sekiwakes in the 2011 Aki Basho are all now Ozeki. Last year’s sekiwake were, as I said, a little stale. This year’s sekiwake are somewhat more fresh. Now, while neither have records that make me feel like predicting ozeki promotion, Goeido is a solid fighter at this rank. He is at the higher end of his range right now, and so he will have to fight hard to kachikoshi, but at least he isn’t a yo-yo fighter who is likely to eat the sand.
Myogiryu is an interesting fighter. Having been away from the television the last two bouts, my first thought was that Myogiryu was on a yo-yo. Last year at this time Myogiryu wasn’t even in Makuuchi. Yet, over the past year Myogiryu has only missed his kachikoshi once (at Maegashira 1). Last basho, he eeked out his kachikoshi 8-7. I am interested to see how he holds it together this basho.
I don’t have much to say about Aioyama (other than that the media are hyping him up a bit with the death of his stable master) or Tochinoshin.
I’m surprised to see Kaisei back in makuuchi, and up at Maegashira 1 at that. I haven’t seen his sumo over the last two bouts, but he strikes me as a yo-yo from what I knew of him before. I expect to see him eat it.
Homasho is back from a bit of a yo-yo after his Komosubi debut. I hope he gets it together. I like this guy and I want to see his sumo get more and more consistent. I always worry when a consistent rikishi gets knocked for a yo-yo. I expect 8 or 9 wins out of Homie.
My focus is on M1 – Sekiwake this basho. I’m somewhat ambivalent about Harumafuji promoting to yokozuna. If he does, I certainly won’t be sad, but if he doesn’t I might just be happy. The guy has his on bouts and his off bouts. Perhaps Hak and Asa have ruined me in expected 100% consistency 100% of the time in a yokozuna, but I do expect it.
Here’s to you all. My glass of whiskey is now empty. Don’t be absent on the first day of the basho, or Daly will send a note home to your parents.