Bruce Grumbles About The Nagoya Basho

What the hell was that? Never before in my decades as a sumo fan have I had the urge to label and entire basho with such a term. Not even the famous 2017 “Wacky Aki”. I take a few days away from sumo, and this is what happens?

Look, it was bad before I went kyujo for family matters, but good lord did it take a hard left hand turn and head straight for the storm drain. I thank Andy and everyone else who filled in while I attended to dreadful things. But enough of that.

I caught up today, and everyone and their cousin went covid kyujo. They were dropping like flies, with two more right on the final day. It shredded the torikumi, and the schedule, and the ranking, and Aki’s banzuke, and crap, just about everything. The kyokai really painted themselves into a corner with their COVID policy. They never updated it after the initial strain, not once taking into account the kind of things an Omicron variant can do. Let me share something with you. BA5, currently the world wide flavor, more virulent than measles. You get within a few feet of someone with that stuff, guess what, you now have it too. Not that it’s going to do much other than give you the sniffles in most cases, but hey – its still COVID and can hurt you.

So the NSK got hoisted by their own policy. One positive test, whole stable sits it out. Thats all good when it’s one or two, but when you lose a third of your talent, you are reduced to this kind of circus disguised as sumo.

They had to bring a fair portion of Juryo up to fight on senshuraku in the top division, just to fill in the air time. They had to backfill Juryo with Makushita guys just so the folks left in Juryo had an opponent. The wheels feel off this basho in the last 3 days. I think the ultimate example of the train-wreck that was Nagoya 2022 was the Hoshoryu – Midorifuji match. A Komusubi fighting an M11 for the third to last match of the basho. And then they completely blow the call and give the match to Midorifuji when the top of his foot is on the clay while Hoshoryu is still in bounds. Granted, I think Hoshoryu’s attitude needs attenuation, but this is not the way to do it.

I worry for the mental health of the banzuke committee. It can’t be anything more than this: 1) Drink a LOT 2) Try your best 3) Pretend it’s the result of hours of cloistered study and some of the best minds in sumo. 4) Conclude by drinking and yakitori till sunrise.

Exit question – what are NSK going to do about their jungyo reboot in a couple of weeks?

17 thoughts on “Bruce Grumbles About The Nagoya Basho

  1. Hey Bruce! I have been thinking about you and your family…much LOVE to you all, and I’m leave it at that. And YES…in total agreement with you, good sir…this basho (if you even want to call it that) was BONKERS! Completely Off-the-Rail. I have been watching, dissecting & thrilling to sumo for just about 20 years, and have NEVER in my life seen anything like what the sumo association put on for this tourney! Aye yie yie! I am wondering what is going to happen to all the rankings?! For those that got their kachi-koshi, or perhaps their make-koshi, or perhaps were covid kyujo — how is it going to play out?!

    My hat’s off to Ichinojo — the big guy finally got his first yusho in this topsy-turvy basho! But, but, but my mind keeps going back-and-forth if the covid infections and obvious schedule disruptions at the Makuuchi level — perhaps play a huge part in Ichi securing that win?! Oh well…doesn’t matter now…the contest is done…and Ichi is the Last Man Standing! Bravo, Ichi!

  2. How many of Ichi, Teru and Keisho’s bouts were truly disrupted? Yes it was a nutty and sometimes weird and sad basho, but the race at the top was pretty legit, imho. Only Kotonowaka (and maybe Tobizaru) were missed over the last few days, neh?

  3. Agree totally on Hoshoryu’s bout with Midorifuji–that is exactly I saw what went down…. Hiro was even complicit with the call by the gyoji, calling it a “clear cut” win for Midorifuji—and not correcting himself even when he saw the damning replays. So what is going on here? Like you, I believe there is a bit of a lesson teaching going on between the Sumo overlords and Hoss—much like MLB umpires may try to humble ,or reign in, temperamental young stars that act like superstars. Several times over the past few bashos, close calls at the edge in matches involving Hoshoryu, which were called in favor of his opponent, did not merit even a mono-ii—let alone a reversal! In each case, it could be strongly argued that the call by the Gyoji was incorrect, yet no hands were raised by the judges to discuss it. I can only assume this to be intentional and, reflect a bit of a bias against the youngster. I will admit, however, that I am also biased as a fan of Hoshoryu (and his much-maligned uncle,.and welcome other opinions on this subject…

  4. “Hey, look here comes the jungyo bus…Yippee…Oh…Why are there 15 cardboard cutouts of Rikishi in there ?????…Ahhh, well…Ya see……….We got ya some San. Scrubs to make up for it, but…Look, Sumo wrestlers…sorta…” :)

  5. Well, it’s Nagoya, seemingly always the strangest of the 6. And I too offer congrats to Ichinojo, whose win was kind of tainted, yet well deserved. As for the Hosho/Midorifuji bout, there’s nothing new here. Slo-mo doesn’t lie. I’ve seen it before – there was no mono-ii because word was passed that time was short. This time, not to do w/the news, but the Yusho ceremony – and we all know how important ceremony is in Japan.
    There was even one the previous day in which a mono-ii was called on a close match (no problem), but the torinaoshi was dead even! Sorry sport fans – out of time. So Hoshoryu, a rikishi of great techinique & potential, doesn’t smile? How about the lads who consistently move their opponent over the rope and then, for no particular reason, shove them into the seats? Won’t mention any names, but one is a Yokozuna.

    • Agreed about Terunofuji, up until a few months ago. He needlessly gave an extra shove to every other opponent… until about four bashos ago. His first two bashos after being promoted to Yokozuna featured extra shoves after his opponent exited the ring. Then they stopped. I’d bet a large sum of money he was spoken to. Because they stopped abruptly after his second basho as Yokozuna.

    • Interesting take—The fact that the announcer (Hiro) basically just ignored it, and “gaslit” the viewers–calling it a “clear cut” win for Midorifuji (and then nor correcting himself even after seeing the replays) was the clearest indicator that there is a bit more going on here than just a missed call IMHO…. whether it is lesson teaching by the JSA to someone they feel they need to reign in, or just a simple time issue with the broadcast, something is afoot..

  6. The one redeeming memory for me from this basho was the Day 14 double header between Kiribayama and Wakamotoharu. The first bout ended with what was a definitive example of two rikishi falling and hitting the clay at the same time, almost like synchronised swimmers, and the second bout was another mobile battle of endurance.

    There are too few high quality, entertaining bouts in sumo now, even compared to 2-3 years ago.

  7. When was Hoshoryu last in a recoverable position? I think Hoshoryu was dead, even if his feet were still on the surface. I think that factored into Kiribayama/WMH, too.

    • I think you can only be dead if both feet have left the surface, but we really have to find the full Japanese version of that rule and someone who can translate it properly, assuming it’s actually written down anywhere.

      • It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s not fully written down anywhere. If it was, then it wouldn’t be open to interpretation and it would rarely have to be discussed by the judges.

      • Herouth is the person I’ve read who seems to have the most confidence about how that rule works. She might know if there’s anything in writing. I sure don’t understand it.

      • Not if Hoshoryu was “dead” when the top of his foot touched. Like Leonid, I don’t think I will be satisfied that I understand the dead body stuff until I see it in black and white from an official source. And probably even then I may need to be walked through examples like this. To me, though Hoshoryu’s foot was in, he was in an irrecoverable position long before… basically when blasted off balance by Midorifuji. And to me, that’s when the bout was won. But that’s just, “to me.” Sumo death is still an interesting, unclear topic.

  8. Thanks for posting Bruce! You always bring up very important points of fact! Hope things are a little brighter for you guys!

    Iksumo and Andy – you are both raising excellent points of contention along with Wulftrax.

    Thanks to everyone for posting!

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