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?