The Fall basho passed quietly. After the marijuana scandals of the summer, and the lifetime suspension of three Russian rikishi, I think everyone connected to sumo breathed a sigh of relief as the tournament itself went off well. Yokozuna Hakuho has settled in as the reigning champion, easily winning his 8th Emperor’s Cup with a 14-1 record. Our man Ama, smallest rikishi at the highest level, was second at 13-2, winning the Outstanding Performance Award and adding to his claim for promotion to ozeki.
The great champion Asashoryu seems to be winding down his career. He lost 4 of his first 7 fights and retired from the tournament with “injuries”, the second time in a row he has pulled that stunt. There will be pressure on him for sure to either pull up his socks or to retire. Asashoryu has 22 Emperor’s Cups and was hoping in a few years to have taken the record from Taiho’s 32 wins. However, Hakuho, Ama and a few up-and-comers will probably put paid to that idea. Of course, if he comes back for a win in November, then all bets are off.
Hooray, the European football season is back! It is a treat to watch good football each and every Saturday morning. I am especially pleased that Chelsea are already top of the English Premier Division, a position I hope they hold until the end.
Also starting is the North American ice hockey season. We are still in exhibition play for another couple of weeks, but the Canucks have begun what was supposed to be a “transitional” season for the team with a surprising 4-0 record. Vigneault has been putting out some fascinating line combinations with our young prospects and a few of the talent acquired over the summer. Today is the big pre-season cut day; a dozen or more players have to be cut from the roster. It will be very interesting to see what the coach does with fewer options.
And finally, there is cycling. Alberto Contador joined the list of only four other cyclists who have won all three Grand Tours: the Tour de France in 2007, the Giro d’Italia this May, and the Vuelta a Espagna this month. It has been hard to follow the post Tour season. My heavy load at work and no TV coverage has made it very difficult. I love to watch cycling, and following it on text just doesn’t cut it. Hopefully the 2009 season will be better covered by OLN and others.