Andy’s Controversial Take On Spoilers


I know my point of view on spoilers in sport is controversial so I figure I owe some explanation.

Let’s assume a sport fan, fw, has watched a sporting event while another fan, fn, has not. There is a certain amount of enjoyment, e, to be had in watching an event live, unaware of the outcome. However, the enjoyment of a sporting event is not merely in knowing the outcome, eo. The enjoyment of a sporting event also comes from knowing how the outcome was achieved, eh. So, e = eo + eh. I have certainly been on both sides of the coin: I missed this past Superbowl because my wife wanted to go to a movie and I watched Harumafuji win this very Nagoya basho live last year and, as an eager fanboy, was extremely excited to share the result with my friends.

So here we have it: Which is greater: ∑fw (eo+ eh), the enjoyment of fans who watched the event and want to freely discuss how in the hell Edelman caught that pass? or ∑fn (-eo), the enjoyment lost by those who learn that the Patriots won another title, yet without having watched the event? I believe that even with the outcome known, both fans have more enjoyment in the HOW than merely the final score. ∑fw (eo+ eh) > ∑fn (-eo), and I firmly endorse the free speech rights of fans who want to freely discuss an event.

The implication is this: I put together this blog for the comment section, not so I could read my own take on the sport. As a fanboy of this professional king of the hill we know as sumo, I find every Tochinoshin/Ichinojo match-up just as thrilling as every Micky Ward/Arturo Gatti (RIP) battle. On reddit yesterday, I was reminded of the greatest henka ever: Hakuho pulling one over on Kisenosato from about five years ago. Kisenosato charged at Hakuho prematurely, not once, but twice! Hakuho was fuming and even bumped that dastardly ozeki. The drama is something to behold…and is certainly not lessened by the fact that it’s a historical bout with its outcome long ago known and determined.

Granted, I love the sound of the voice of the dude who narrates NFL films. But that’s beside the point. I don’t watch the sport like a gambler, just interested in whether I made the over/under. I watch the sport for the technique and the drama and I cover this sport because I want to share my love and appreciation for that drama. Now, y’all can flame me to your hearts content. No comments will be censored in this thread.

Makushita Rikishi Updates (Shunba, Yago, Mitoryu)


This past week, Terunofuji tweeted a picture of Shunba from this past basho.

Along with this article on the Tsukebito system that featured Shunba’s mentoring of Terunofuji, I had also written about the debut of two college champions in Makuushita. However, I neglected to provide updates during the tournament on their performance. It’s difficult to follow these guys because rarely are videos taken or shared of their bouts.

These are links to YouTube videos of Shunba’s bouts. Click this image to see his post.

Fortunately for us, Shunba has his own social media presence, on Twitter as @shunba_sekito, and here’s his blog. His blog is great. It’s often hard to find video of lower-ranked rikishi but in his latest post he provides links to Youtube videos of his bouts from the last tournament. Please visit his site and click on the links over there. Unfortunately, he finished 1-6 after his fantastic 6-1 Makushita debut. So he will slide back down the banzuke, likely around Makushita 45 or so.

Mitoryu’s (Torbold Baasansuren) first bout was available on SumoDB but they didn’t have videos of Yago’s bouts. Mitoryu finished makekoshi, 3-4, but Yago did well at 5-2 and will rise toward the top of makushita. We may see him in Juryo in September or November if he continues to do well. I will try to do a better job of keeping up with makushita.

As for a cryptic test tweet last week and a follow up tweet about Chanko that many seemed to enjoy, I’m working on a secret project (I’ve dubbed it Project X). I’m very excited about it and hope to provide details on it by the end of June.

A Bit of Seriousness…Again?!?!


It is with deep sorrow, and a little fear as I clutch my Michael Kiwanuka tickets for tomorrow, that I extend my condolences to the people of London, Manchester and Manila. The threat of terrorism is unfortunately an uncomfortable reality that hangs over high-profile, popular events and locations. We should be able to gather for work and enjoy entertainment without fear that we may not return home. I’m not going to leave this post up long…I’ll probably delete it soon because I don’t want to dwell on dark topics…but I wanted to express sympathy to those of you who may have been affected, or know someone who was.

It’s not something new. It’s been present in our literature, cinema and art for longer than Guy Fawkes masks have been around. Thomas Harris’s first book wasn’t about Hannibal Lector; it was a 1975 thriller about the race to stop a blimp from bombing the Super Bowl.

Throughout my childhood, the specter of hijackings hanged over the act of flying but the first time terrorism really registered as something in my consciousness occurred as a kid, visiting London in the 80s at the end of the Troubles, when unable to return to our hotel because of a bomb threat. Then, during high school, the attacks in Oklahoma City and at our own Olympic Games in Atlanta captured our attention. And though I knew about it, the sarin attack in Tokyo occurred but the gravity and reality of it didn’t really hit me until I found myself in Kasumigaseki station many years later.

The events of September 11th didn’t really surprise me. I had been in the lounge at the top of one of the towers of the World Trade Center 6 months before, watching the birds circling below my feet and wondering what would happen if a plane was lost in the city. It had happened before, and it has happened since. Usually by accident, but it wasn’t hard to imagine an event where it wasn’t. And over the past 18 years, whether it be Bangkok, or Nairobi, or Paris with frustrating regularity there seems to be another attack which has me concerned about friends I met at that location, or family I know who frequent it, or friends of friends, or friends of friends of friends.

I work in DC, next to the Navy Yard, and was at work when a laid off contractor slipped through security and killed 13 people, one of whom had been evacuated but succumbed to his injuries in front of the CVS. We were locked down that day, just as our kids were last year when a divorced security guard started killing random people in parking lots around Montgomery County. That reminded my neighbors of the heightened fears during the DC sniper events since one of the shootings occurred at the gas station a block from here. I’m pretty jaded now.

It is madness, and I offer no advice or answers. I have none. I can only offer my sympathy and hope that this last one was the last one.

The Philippines: Next Sumo Powerhouse?


With Takayasu’s ozeki promotion and Mitakeumi looking to slide into his vacated Sekiwake slot, I thought I’d take a look at the Philippines. I almost lived there growing up. My dad was in the US Air Force and we were supposed to be stationed there but somehow ended up in Biloxi, MS instead. I always consider it a missed opportunity. This is not anything near the “Mongolian invasion” we’ve seen in sumo and more approximates the Bulgarian or Georgian mini-booms. But, will their rise to the upper echelons of professional sumo, timed as it is during a surge in domestic popularity, bring more interest in Filipino recruits?

Philippine Satellite Initiated by Japanese University Programs

This satellite mission patch graphically illustrates the commonalities and ties between the Philippines and Japan. On the face of things, the countries have some very interesting similarities. Both are sprawling, earthquake prone, volcanic, island nations sitting off the eastern coast of mainland Asia, of roughly similar population (Japan: #61, Philippines: #72) and size (Japan: #10, Philippines: #13). Basically, the smaller brothers of massive Indonesia (#4 in population; #14 in land area). Their histories are very different, but obviously interconnected at times. Colonized by the Spanish, Japanese, and Americans, the Philippines returned to democratic rule in 1984. Recently, the country has been in the news because of the actions and rhetoric from its controversial President, Rodrigo Duterte.

Because of its fascinating history, The Philippines has it’s own distinct, wonderful culture with flavors from Spanish, Japanese, and American colonizers. For me, culture starts in the kitchen. Traditional Filipino dishes have been noted to be among Takayasu’s favorites. In Japan, nata-de-coco went through its own mini-boom, kind of like the 1980s version of today’s American “cronut” craze.

Nata De Coco

Tonight, I tried nata-de-coco for the first time. It is really good. It’s more firm than gelatin and has an interesting, lavender-like flavor. Supposedly it has a lot of fiber. It’s big in Japan, though not as big as it once was and seems to be rarely eaten on its own. One of the desserts featured here from Denny’s was a great example. They don’t offer it anymore, but you can see it was offered up to 1992. My wife remembers it fondly and bought us a bottle of nata-de-coco from our local Korean grocer.

The quality of “Family Restaurants” in Japan like Denny’s, Skylark and Saizeria, compared to those in the US, will surprise you. I mention this because if you go to Japan, don’t avoid “Western” brands like Denny’s, 7-Eleven, Starbucks, etc., just because you think you know them. You sure would not find many desserts featuring nata-de-coco, or fresh mango back home. And my favorite bit is always the customer service. *Pro tip*: a call button is usually available in restaurants in Japan to summon help, or just yell “sumimasen!” In the US, we have to rely on making eye-contact with a busy waitstaff or our psychic powers to will them from out of their hiding places in the kitchen.

In DC, we have several Philippine restaurants with high reviews. I’d been planning to try one before posting this article but haven’t been able to make it to one since none are close enough to Navy Yard for me try at lunch. Then, on the weekend, I avoid DC like the plague and I’ve not found similarly high-rated examples here in the suburbs. I’m glad that I was able to at least try nata-de-coco before posting this. Keep an eye out for future posts on Philippine cuisine: like adobo, lumpia,

Natsu Day 8 Highlights


Kotoshogiku was a mere blip (blimp?) on Hakuho’s zensho radar. Likewise, Harumafuji relentlessly blasted poor Chiyoshoma into the second row as he stays on pace with Hakuho. Kisenosato outlasted Aoiyama but the difficulty he had pushing the man mountain over the straw bales reinforces the fact that he’s injured and should go kyujo. He’s not in the yusho hunt. He gains nothing with these wins over maegashira but puts himself at risk of prolonging his recovery. He’s already gotten the storybook yusho. He can afford to sit a few tournaments out and come back healthy.

Lemme Down, Dude!!

The match of the day, Yoshikaze vs Takayasu, was eye-opening. Takayasu followed through on a strong tachiai with a powerful choke hold. The Swedish Chef then whipped the rubber chicken’s neck forward, tossing him to the clay. The most surprising bout though, was the way Terunofuji utterly dismantled Mitakeumi. The rejuvenated ozeki wrapped his tree-trunk arms around the youngster, immobilizing the spring chicken, and then ushered the upstart out of the dohyo.

Endo’s capitalizing on his own good health. With the victory over Goeido today added to Terunofuji’s and Kisenosato’s scalps, he’s in prime position for his first winning record while ranked in the top of the maegashira. A year ago, his own injury forced him down into Juryo and now he’s a serious contender for a sanyaku slot. He’s looking better than Shodai at the moment.

Natsu Day 8 Preview


Sumo’s version of Hump Day is upon us and I like where we stand:

  • Hakuho and Harumafuji, undefeated and vying for the title
  • Takayasu’s Ozeki hopes are not just alive, but thriving
  • Kotoshogiku’s day of reckoning approaches
  • Wakaichiro Progressing; Faces Jonidan veteran, Takaseiryu
  • An exciting slate of bouts!
    1. Yoshikaze vs Takayasu
    2. Hakuho vs Kotoshogiku
    3. Terunofuji vs Mitakeumi

First of all, Takayasu versus Yoshikaze is my bout of the day. I just can’t put into words how excited I am to see these two fighting together with Takayasu not only chasing ozeki rank – but in yusho contention. Yoshikaze was built to be a spoiler; will he throw a wrench into Takayasu’s coronation?

Hakuho and Harumafuji look healthy and are fighting well. Both have been quite dominant and aggressive, with the exception of the one “almost henka” from Harumafuji…I believe against Daieisho on Day 5. I’ve got a few theories about that but no sense risking injury against a guy who should not even be at this level. Harumafuji will face Chiyoshoma for the first time so I’m expecting a quick sidestep/spin to check the box and move on to Day 9.

Hakuho, on the other hand, will face a desperate Kotoshogiku. If Giku loses tomorrow, he will be on the verge of makekoshi, and certain demotion to the maegashira ranks with Japan’s darlings, Kisenosato & Mitakeumi, waiting in the wings. After that, 5 more days of certain humiliation as he fights lowly maegashira for the privilege of staying in the upper ranks. And with Hakuho as dominant as he has been the last few days, as his own sumo has had to evolve, I’m not expecting him to let Giku get a bear hug to even try a hug-and-chug.

If he can keep him at arms length, battering him with slaps, I will be VERY curious to see how the sekiwake will react. As his lower body fails him, he needs more options with the upper body. Does he have it in him to go toe-to-toe in a street brawl? I want to see that so bad. To whom does Sadogatake beya turn if he retires? Kotoyuki’s been fizzling – with Myogiryu, Kaisei, and Tochinoshin – facing newly promoted Yutakayama.

Wakaichiro will face an interesting test tomorrow. Takaseiryu has spent almost four years in this Jonidan division. Never kyujo, just up and down with setbacks in between spurts of steady improvement. Not long ago he was at his highest position in the division, managing a 3-4 record at Jd5. He doesn’t seem to be a big guy if 112kg from the SumoDB is accurate. Is that what’s holding him back? With both rikishi close in size, it is certainly an interesting bout between experience and raw strength.

Natsu Day 7 Highlights


Our leaders remain the same: Hakuho and Harumafuji remain undefeated, and virtually unchallenged this week, with Takayasu now the lone contender chasing with one loss.

The bout of the day, Kisanosato/Mitakeumi lived up to the hype. The banged up Yokozuna helps to cement his legacy with these solid wins while the worthy youngster effectively demonstrates that he will be a leader in this league. With the simultaneous rise of Takayasu, the Filipino era may be upon us. Anyway, it helped that most of the makuuchi bouts were relatively quick contests, punctuated by oshidashi (push out) victories.

Bout of the Day

In clearly the best belt battle of the day, Mitakeumi’s charge put Kisenosato on his heels at the edge of the dohyo. However, the junior yokozuna proved his mettle by battling back to the center and patiently wearing down the up-and-comer and working him out of the opposite side of the ring.

Hakuho was just as effective, demonstrating that Daieisho’s rise was a fluke with a speedy, straight forward yorikiri. Daieisho faces makekoshi tomorrow as a result. Harumafuji made quick work of Yoshikaze, who seemed stunned after the yokozuna’s top-knot met his chin. After that powerful tachiai, everyone’s favorite pincushion had no counter-attack and was quickly ushered out.

Goeido may have closed the door on Kotoshogiku’s career. Not only was Giku’s thrusting unable to move Goeido backwards…Goeido was able to get Giku moving backwards despite the thrusts. The wily Sekiwake pivoted, forcing the kadoban ozeki’s back to the straw bales. A year ago, this would have been prime position for a hippity-hoppety jackrabbit force out but with Goeido’s own ozeki status on the line, he finished Giku off with a quick throw. Kotoshogiku is done. If he hangs on through this tournament, he has to fight Hakuho tomorrow and Kisenosato after that. He will surely finish with a losing record. The only question being, how far he will fall into the ranks of the maegashira?

Next week, he may be able to pick up some wins and finish with 5, 6, or even 7 wins. But best case scenario he will be in the top maegashira for July. It may even benefit him to fall FAR into the maegashira. If he loses most (or all) the rest of his bouts, and plummets with Daieisho into the middle ranks of the rank-and-file, he will not face sanyaku opponents in July. He could win against easier maegashira opponents. Will his pride allow him to slide that far, lose the extra retainers and status? Will he use that chance to heal his injuries, retool his game, and become a multi-dimensional wrestler? I would love to see him stay around, if his love of the sport is that strong, like Aminishiki.

Second place Takayasu got a quick, weird win against a Chiyoshoma who was trying, and failing, to do his best Ura impression. Chiyonokuni put in great effort against Tamawashi in an exciting bout, but lost his balance and got slapped down. Ura had Sokokurai completely befuddled. After he got pushed out, Sokokurai just stood there like, “what just happened?”

Honestly, most of the rest of the bouts were kinda “meh”. Tochinoshin was just too big and strong for Ishiura. Once he got the atomic wedgie going, the bout resembled those matches against little kids. Ichinojo was back to his lumbering, lethargic ways. Even Ikioi/ Uncle Takara was forgettable. I think I was just too anxious that they were going to call a matta against Ikioi. Everyone seemed to get out of whack and was a bit uncertain as the shinpan cracked down on getting both hands to touch the clay.