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RE: futa factor (little spoiler)

> At 06:02 PM 5/20/99 +0900, Joshua A. Reyer wrote:
> >
> >What you say about Taka being the favorite in any yusho race is indeed
> >but it applies across the board.  If you say that Waka's yusho was
> >undeserved because Taka wasn't in the race, then nobody's yusho would
> >been deserved.  Akebono has an easier time if Taka's out, as does
> >and Musashimaru.  In fact, with Taka out, Akebono and Musashimaru are
> >at an advantage than Waka or Takanonami because the Futa boys wouldn't
> >had to fight him anyway.
> >
> I agree with this.  The yusho means less if Takanohana is out injured.
> the others - Ake, Musashi, everyone - don't have as big of a challenge in
> winning the yusho.

Um, I appreciate the agreement, but I don't actually think the yusho means
less.  There are many yokozuna who were better than Takanohana but they
don't participate because they are too old, retired, dead, etc.  The fact
that these better rikishi don't compete doesn't take away from Taka's
various yusho because in these particular circumstances, Taka is the better
rikishi.  If Taka is sick or injured, and has to go kyujo, he's doing it
because for him to continue to participate would give him a losing record,
if not kill him.  The only difference is that unlike dead or retired
rikishi, he comes back when he's healthy.

And these days Taka isn't especially healthy.  I'd like to say that a broken
collarbone is what took him out, but his problems were before the injury.
Taka is no longer top dog.  The Kyokai would like to think that if he was in
the tournament he would dominate, but that's not the case, even if his arm
was okay.  Taka has been a non-factor since Kyushu last year.

Now Waka is kyujo, because his injuries prevent him from being a winning
yokozuna.  If he fought Musashimaru right now, he'd lose.  In fact, even
when he was healthy he had a losing record against Musashimaru.  Taka's a
non-factor and Waka's a shaky factor.  That leaves Musashimaru, he of the 52
consecutive kachikoshi and perfect attendance record, and 4 yusho (one a
zensho yusho).  If Musashimaru has not proven that he is currently the best
rikishi in Makuuchi, then things are really screwed up.

> >A yusho is a yusho.  It's silly to attach arbitary qualifications to
> >yusho; "Oh, it wasn't a good yusho because he didn't beat Taka," or "It
> >a weak yusho because there were no yokozuna."
> I disagree, and so does the Sumo Kyokai, apparently.  As has been  posted
> this list, the Kyokai apparently thinks that Musashi's yusho last
> was insufficient, considering that all the yokozuna were out of
> Last tournament was considering a black mark on sumo due to the lack of
> competition with so many top rikishi injured.
> If it's silly to attach qualifications, then it's not just me that's
silly -
> it's the Nihon Sumo Kyokai.  I don't think Musashi's win last tournament
> meant a whole lot, with so much of the top competition removed for him.
> Sumo is filled with arbitrary qualifications, so you'd better get used to
> it ;)

Hmmm....  I know that the Kyokai has reservations about Musashimaru's last
yusho...  What to do, what to do...  Dare I say it?  I dare.

The Emperor has no clothes.  The Kyokai is wrong.

I've really stepped in it now, but I'll keep going.  The Kyokai being wrong
is not unprecedented.  Even the most ardent sumo fan has some problems with
the way the Kyokai runs things.  The Kyokai as an organization has a number
of problems, number one being an unwillingness to change when necessary, and
number two being an unwillingness to look at reality.  (Note that I say as
an*organization*; I make no judgement on the many find individuals who make
up that organization.)  The Kyokai refuses to look into modern sports
nutrition and medicine, thus forcing many rikishi into early retirement with
poor health and chronic problems.  The Kyokai refuses to change it's arcane
and archaic myoseki traditions, causing problems when untrained retired
rikishi become businessmen-oyakata, despite the fact that many of them never
went to college and a few didn't even finish high school.  Michinoku
Oyakata's tax problems are a symptom of this.

Qualifications for a yusho are not necessarily bad.  Too many, or
*arbitrary* qualifications are wrong.  If, say, Kotonishiki won one yusho at
Maegashira 14, and then won his next one as a komusubi, the Kyokai would
probably not promote him to yokozuna.  Maybe Ozeki, but not yokozuna.
That's all right.  It makes sense.  If the Kyokai patted Kotonishiki on the
shoulder, said, "Good job, son," and promoted him to sekiwake simply because
you have to go through sanyaku in order, that would be wrong.

If Taka and Waka stayed in the Haru Basho, and Takanonami won without a play
off, without facing either yokozuna, I could see them saying "Takanonami's
got to kick major ass to get the rope this next time."  But if all three
yokozuna are injured, it's a different story, because everyone's on more or
less the same footing when one of the big guys goes out.  As I mentioned
above, Musashimaru has proven that he is the best rikishi currently active
in Makuuchi.  There's no guarantee that Taka or Waka will ever recover from
their injuries and problems.  The competition was not removed "for"
Musashimaru.  He showed up.  They did not.  And he is the one that sent
Chiyotaikai into kyujo, before Takanonami had a crack at him, so we're
really only talking about Taka and Waka here.  Both were very beatable that
basho.  If Taka hadn't broken his collarbone, there's no way he would've
maintained the lead going into the second week.  Waka was barely hanging on.
He wasn't even a contender.  So what the Kyokai is saying is that a basho
where Musashimaru actually defeated two weakened yokozuna is better than one
in which those two sat out.  It's silly, it's arbitrary, it's wrong, and
it's not right just because the Kyokai says so.  The Kyokai right now is
missing the forest for the trees.  They are talking about that word,
"Yokozuna, yokozuna" as if it's the be all end all of sumo.  That's what
they'd like it to be, but it's not.  The rikishi are people, too.
Takanohana became yokozuna because he was strong.  He was not strong because
he was a yokozuna.  He is not strong now, period.  Musashimaru may not be
the best rikishi there ever was.  But he's the best now, and if he wins this
basho with a 13-2 record then, by God, he *should* get the promotion, and if
the Kyokai doesn't give it to him they are wrong, wrong, wrong, and there's
no two ways about it.  "The Kyokai says so," is not an argument.

I think the truth of it is that there are some individual oyakata on the
promotion committee who probably feel like I do.  But the promotion has to
be unanimous.  And what I think is that there's at least one, maybe more,
oyakata on the committee who would rather not see two Hawaiian yokozuna at
the top of the banzuke.  And I think the Kyokai's hedging because of "lousy
tachiai timing", or a "weak yusho" are just excuses so that when he doesn't
get it, the Kyokai doesn't have to say, "Well, it was a close vote, but
Sabetsu Oyakata, formerly Komusubi Neverwonayushoyama, didn't like the idea
of another Hawaiian yokozuna, so we had to nix the deal."

No, Musashimaru's no Chiyonofuji.  He's no Takanosato.  But on the other
hand, he's no Futahaguro, either.  You want strength?  He's the strongest
there is at this moment in time, and for the foreseeable future, unless Taka
and Waka make brilliant recoveries.  You want dignity?  Musashimaru's the
original Gentle Giant, and he's never made snide remarks about his oyakata
or his brother, er, I mean, other rikishi.  He blew two losses to some rank
and file guys.  So what?  Takanohana went 8-7 in the Hatsu Basho.  If
Musashimaru makes the yusho, and they deny him the promotion, then they
should boot Takanohana right out.  Either that or admit that they are racist
old coots.

I don't have to get used to a thing if it's in the wrong.  In fact, it is my
obligation *not* to get used to it, but to speak against it and try to fix
it.  "A little revolution now and again is a good thing," and all that.
Maybe a message on an English mailing list doesn't go very far in sumo
circles, but seeing as how they wouldn't listen to anyone unless they were
old, Japanese and had a fistful of toshiyori-kabu anyway, I might as well
let you all know where I stand as a concerned sumo fan.

Josh Reyer