1908 Cubs player and position - TUESDAY, Apr. 21, 2009 — RJ & NJ Byron (1946 high-tech wonder / Black-clad white-clad Mad adversaries)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy (or Challenging?)
THEME: TINKER to EVERS to CHANCE — Three theme answers, each clued [1908 Cubs player and position], end up describing perhaps the most famous DOUBLE PLAY COMBO in baseball history.
Word of the Day: VETCH - n.
Any of various herbs of the genus Vicia, having pinnately compound leaves that terminate in tendrils and small, variously colored flowers.Hard to rate the difficulty level on this one. For me, this was one of the easiest Tuesdays I've ever done. Even with a few rewrites and rough patches, I still came in at 3:24 — fast for me for a Tuesday. I merely glimpsed at the first clue and immediately filled in the beginnings of the first three theme answers and the entirety of the fourth. I can see non-baseball fans, however, being absolutely stumped by this puzzle. You know 'em or you don't, and if you don't, it's going to be something of a slog (though non-theme clues are mostly remarkably easy, perhaps for just this reason). Cubs fans in particular know the phrase "Tinker to Evers to Chance" because those guys were part of the last Cubs team to win a World Series, six thousand years ago. The names of the men in that COMBO were immortalized in a 1910 poem by Franklin Pierce Adams:
These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
By Franklin Pierce Adams
New York Evening Mail July 10, 1910
My only trouble in solving this one involved my confusing "TINKER to EVERS to CHANCE" with John Le Carré's "TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY," which resulted in my writing the names of the COMBO at first as TINKER, TAYLOR, CHANCE. "TINKER to TAYLOR to CHANCE" sounds right to my ear. Better, in fact. More alliterative, more mellifluous. EVERS barely sounds like a name. Do you mean EVANS? EVERT? Make up your mind. Anyway, I worked it out fairly quickly, even though that section of the puzzle involved VETCH, which I've never heard of (26D: Climbing plant with pealike flowers). KVETCH, yes. Alexander OVECHKIN, yes. VETCH, no. Oh, didn't know SPRITS either (5D: Mast extensions). Yuck.
- 17A: 1908 Cubs player and position (TINKER, SHORTSTOP)
- 25A: 1908 Cubs player and position (EVERS, SECOND BASE)
- 43A: 1908 Cubs player and position (CHANCE, FIRST BASE)
- 57A: What 17-, 25- and 43-Across were, famously (DOUBLE PLAY COMBO)
- 16A: When repeated, Road Runner's call (beep) — I believe there was some discussion on this blog a while back about whether the sound wasn't more appropriately represented "meep meep!" The "meep" spelling is preferred in a number of places, including the Wikipedia entry for Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. You be the judge.
- 35A: Hydrotherapy locale (spa) — This puzzle has "locale" and "sloganeer" in its clues (49A: "Yes we can" sloganeer) — sadly, it lacks "denizen" and thus fails to pick up the coveted Clue Jargon Trifecta.
- 39A: Polish's partner (spit) — Easy to get, though "Polish" is always a tricky one — nationality or verb?
- 41A: Baseball analyst Hershiser (Orel) — Is the "analyst" clue new? He's been one for years, but usually he's clued as a pitching great. I like that he's in this baseball puzzle.
- 60A: Virginia _____ (noted 1587 birth) (Dare) — Honestly, I've heard the name, but I don't know who this is. I see that she was the first child born in America to English parents.
- 4D: Peeling potatoes, stereotypically (on KP) — I see what the clue is going for, but something about it feels off, grammatically. I can think of situations where I can switch the two phrases neatly if I try (Sarge yelling at Beetle that he'll be "peeling potatoes" (i.e. ON KP) if he doesn't, I don't know, clean the latrine or stop ogling girls or something), but the verb phrase-to-prepositional phrase shift here feels jarring.
- 25D: 1946 high-tech wonder (Eniac) — It's always ENIAC. 1946? ENIAC. Pre-Gates computing? ENIAC. Maybe ADA Lovelace, if it's three letters. But otherwise, ENIAC. Learned it from crosswords.
- 31D: Black-clad and white-clad Mad adversaries (spies) — Best clue in the grid. Loved these guys (and Mad generally) as a kid.
- 32D: Wonderland cake phrase (eat me) — Also, like BRAINIAC, a playground taunt.
- 52D: Nonkosher diner offerings (BLTs) — I've never liked this clue on BLT. Seems unfair to clue it so negatively. "Nonkosher" seems to be puzzle shorthand for "it has pork in it."
- 53D: Iditarod terminus (Nome) — One of the many crosswordy terms given to us by Alaska. See also ALEUT and ATKA and many others.
PuzzleGirl's write-up of today's LAT puzzle is here.