What The Hell Was That?

This was me before the final two bouts last night:

Oo boy, this is going to be a good one. We’ve got two champions, battling their accumulated injuries as much as they’re battling their opponent. Each with seven losses, meaning the loser will go kadoban. It’s going to be a free-for-all. It’s going to be g–

What the hell was that? What th–

Mitakeumi-seki, I’ve got a question. Whose brand of sumo features sliding back to the tawara, and then casually stepping out? This isn’t the keiko-ba. This isn’t supposed to be butsukari. There are fans here…a lot of fans here…and they came to watch sumo. That looked like some low-ranking maegashira, on senshuraku, sitting on a comfortable kachi-koshi and just waiting to get pushed out of the way so he can go home.

“Yeah, well, I’ve got a hot dinner date and I can’t very well go out if I’m sweaty.”

Oy. Well, at least we’ve got one more bout to make up for it. <checks torikumi> It’s Terunofuji versus…Shodai. Already makekoshi Shodai. Well, it can’t be worse than this last bout, that’s for sure.

Well, at least that was something. It wasn’t sumo but Shodai put in some effort. He may have even had a plan to use the gyoji as interference–

“Andy, this is Shodai. You’re giving him too much credit. He just blundered into the gyoji.”

Yes. Probably. But still. Terunofuji–

“Terunofuji likely could have beaten Shodai in his sleep, even with his knee injuries. Speaking of sleep, don’t you need to catch up on some sleep? You shouldn’t have stayed up so late.”

But it’s the final weekend! Senshuraku is tonight. I’m going to stay up again. I may turn on my Twitter Space if I’m coherent enough and chat with fellow sumo fans, if they’re up for it. Staying up until 5am isn’t as easy as it used to be. I’m an old man. An old man, just like Isegahama. Speaking of Isegahama, I bet he wasn’t very satisfied with the quality of Ozeki sumo last night. I imagine him just like this right now. Displeased.

It’s got to be infuriating for guys like Isegahama and Hakuho and Kisenosato to watch the sad display of Ozeki sumo last night. Isegahama’s probably thinking that if he tied on his kanreki tsuna, he’d be able to take on these Ozeki. Poor Kisenos– oops, Nishonoseki. For five years he toiled at the rank of Ozeki, not winning an Emperor’s Cup because he happened to be champion during the reign of Hakuho. If he’d just been born five years later…

And Magaki himself. What would he say? Well, I mean, what would he say if he hadn’t been brow-beaten into submission by the Kyokai? If he weren’t afraid to lose his life’s work for stepping out of line…what would he say about last night’s “Ozeki” sumo?

It wasn’t good. That’s for sure. Which is funny because last night I was up all night looking at data on Ozeki records since 1958. I’ve been wondering how the performance of the current Ozeki hold up in comparison with those of the past, with extra attention to the supposed “Ozeki” Kachi-Koshi standard of 10+ wins. (Note for newbies: kachi koshi means winning record while make koshi means losing record.)

Here’s the table that I’ve put together so far. I’m still working on visuals but those are really rather secondary. I’ve got a lot that don’t really cut the muster at the moment. The numbers next to the names are the ID numbers from the SumoDB which may help if you want to look deeper into their careers. For example, you’ll notice two Takanohanas. Takanohana #4056 is the father of the two Yokozunae Takanohana and Wakanohana most are familiar with.

What I’ve been able to put together so far is a new metric that highlights the disparity between the number of Kachi-Koshi records and the number of Make-Koshi records by sitting Ozeki. There are a few different flavors, though, so I’m working on a much better presentation. But given the performances last night, I did want to take this opportunity to rant at least share the data with you.

I’m looking at adjusting the simple kachi koshi/make koshi ratio in a few ways, first and foremost by using the ratio of “Ozeki” 10+ win kachi koshi versus make koshi. I’m also planning to tweak the number of losing records by only counting the healthy make koshi, as in those make koshi where the Ozeki in question did not end up going kyujo. Musashimaru and Kisenosato’s records were remarkable, for example, because they didn’t have many kyujo but were consistently excellent performers. That must put a bit of extra sting in Kisenosato after last night’s performance, knowing how consistent he was but how empty his trophy shelf is at home. He would have torn this crop up.

However, we may have just been especially spoiled by his consistency and we may be holding our current Ozeki to an unfair standard. Kisenosato was our rock while Kotoshogiku and Goeido were dueling yo-yos. There’s a reason Bruce and I would refer to them as the Kadoban twins. And when we sort the table by healthy make-koshi we see them bubble towards the top. But they’re not AT THE TOP.

If you hover your mouse over the numbers in the table, you’ll also see what years the wrestlers were active. We see that Yutakayama had the most basho with healthy make-koshi and he was active in the 60s. And if we sort by the difference in 10+ win kachi-koshi (OKK) and make-koshi we see a few historical Ozeki like Daiju near the bottom, along with Miyabiyama, and more recent Tochinoshin and Goeido.

So we’re missing two things, 1) a rock and 2) we need injured Ozeki to go kyujo rather than overexert and end up kadoban anyway. Ain’t that right, Terunofuji? Some new comers to the sport may not have been here for Terunofuji’s first stretch at the rank of Ozeki. Our longer tenured Ozeki, like Chiyotaikai and Kaio had many kyujo. With that privilege of being able to sit out and heal, I do think they were able to extend their careers. They also had very successful careers as popular, nay legendary, Ozeki.

Just as we heard from Herouth that some powerful Oyakata was able to make a policy against calling mono-ii from the video room, I wonder if some powerful oyakata have been able to prevent Ozeki from leveraging this privilege. Or I wonder if it’s more of a cultural desire to get out and wrestle not go kyujo. What I saw last night, though, was not a desire to get out and wrestle, that’s for sure. I miss Ikioi.

Alright, now to catch up on some sleep. Enjoy this article for as long as it lasts. I’ll probably take it down when I wake up and have some sense. I seriously wrote half a post as if I was having a conversation with myself. Terrible. Not as bad as the Ozeki sumo we saw last night but, bad.

One thought on “What The Hell Was That?

  1. I’ve just looked at the table – it’s fascinating, and the format is very user friendly. Thanks for doing this.
    I could see where the OKK might be a tough benchmark when there are three or four yokozuna, but ought to be expected when there is only one, as is the case now. And I’m less irritated by poor results from Takakeisho, because I’ve never seen him not try his best, than I am by Shodai, who often seems clueless.


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