From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
With summer nearing its midpoint next week, it’s time to open the mailbag.
Question: I am sick and tired of devastating loss after devastating loss for the Yankees in recent weeks. I am beginning to think manager Aaron Boone cannot manage a bullpen. What do you see for the Yankees in the final two months of the regular season?
Answer: Entering another key series against Tampa Bay beginning tonight, New York has to concentrate trying to gain one of two wild cards in the American League. The Yankees (51-47) are nine games behind the first-place Red Sox in the AL East so that’s going to be difficult. New York is only 3 1/2 games behind Oakland for the second wild card, and the two squads meet for four games in Oakland in late August. The bullpen has directly cost the Yankees at least six wins over the past two months — two this past weekend, a game at the Twins, home games against the Angels and Mets, and a road game at the Astros just before the All-Star break. The Yankees have to pass the A’s and Mariners to make the wild card, but that’s possible with series against both teams. If the bullpen can stop recent implosions and top players return to top form, the Yankees should be right in the mix.
Q: The Summer Olympics in Tokyo seem to lack the pizazz of past Games. What factors do you attribute that to?
A: There are a variety of elements that have contributed to a lack of interest. Namely, a 13-hour time difference doesn’t help, with the only live events being shown in this country from 9 p.m. through the overnight; the U.S. men’s hoops team is very ordinary because of either injury or indifference by the players; and of course, Japan being inflicted with COVID-19, with about 1,700 infection cases per day, leading to no spectators at the Games. However, the women’s 400-meter freestyle race for the gold medal between Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus late Sunday night was one of the best competitions I’ve seen in a long time, and I can go back to watching the Olympics since 1968.
Q: The way I look at it is, the Syracuse University football team has nowhere to go but up this season after last year’s 1-10 overall record. Do you see improvement?
A: Remember, the Orange had to endure a lot of player opt-outs last season, primarily on defense, that caused a snowball effect. This year’s team won’t be as good as the 2018 squad that posted double-digit wins or as bad as last season’s disaster. Chances are, with around 20 starters returning and it’s important that the QB situation gets figured out by the end of training camp, I see SU going 6-6 in 2021.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com