Cyrillic letter between kha che / SAT 11-3-12 / 13th-century empire founder / Politico Michael / Union in 1999 news / Antagonistic org in Simpsons movie / 1990s party name / What may follow NO / Speaker of film line This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Constructor: Milo Beckman
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: Eddie YOST (16A: Baseball's Eddie who was nicknamed "The Walking Man") —
Eddie Yost, a durable and reliable third baseman for three American League teams whose penchant for garnering bases on balls earned him the nickname the Walking Man, died on Tuesday [10/16/12] in Weston, Mass. He was 86. // Yost made his major league debut with the Washington Senators in 1944, when he was just 17, and never played in the minor leagues. Fourteen of his 18 big-league seasons were spent with the lowly Senators, who finished as high as fourth just once while he was playing for them. He was, however, a stalwart, playing in 829 consecutive games from August 1949 to May 1955, still the ninth-longest streak in baseball history.He was the sort of pesky player who gave more powerful teams fits; in the early 1950s, the Yankees were known to covet him, though they never managed to pry him away in a trade. Casey Stengel, the Yankee manager, selected Yost for the 1952 All-Star Game, his only such honor, even though Yost was in the midst of a season in which he hit just .233.“Every time I look up, that feller is on base,” Stengel explained.Indeed, Yost’s forte was getting on base, especially by way of the walk. A student of opposing pitchers, he had a keen eye, a precise sense of the strike zone and the deft bat control to spoil good pitchers’ pitches by fouling them off. In one game, in 1953, he fouled off a total of 20 pitches in two consecutive at bats.Yost led the American League in walks six times, and though he was a below-average hitter, his on-base percentage was over .400 — a stellar figure — in nine different seasons. He led the league in that category twice.He also had some power, hitting 139 home runs in spite of playing most of his home games in Washington’s notoriously spacious Griffith Stadium.Had Yost played a few decades later, in the “Moneyball” era, when the ability to get on base became a more valued quality, he might have achieved greater fame. For his career he batted just .254, but his on-base percentage was .394, higher than that of a long list of current or future Hall of Famers, including Frank Robinson (.389), Tony Gwynn (.388), Willie Mays (.384) and Derek Jeter (.382). (from NYT obit, 10/17/12)
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YOST / ASTANA cross is as close to a Natick* as I've seen in a while [Natick = essentially an unfair crossing of proper nouns; see FAQ for definition]. I mean, I thought the TSE / STEELES cross was kind of brutal (57A: Cyrillic letter between kha and che / 43D: Politico Michael and others), but Michael STEELE (former RNC chairman) is a pretty high-profile guy, esp. during this election season, so I was able to work that one out easily. The YOST / ASTANA cross was a total guess based *solely* on the fact that I know another baseball YOST—Ned YOST, manager of the Kansas City Royals (my friend Robert hosts the radio post-game call-in show for the Royals' flagship station, 610SportsKC). I think Ned YOST actually appeared in a Sunday puzzle a while back. Anyway ... it's only because I knew of Ned that I went with the same name for Eddie. I'm just not sure how inferrable that "S" is. Seems like it could be a stumbling block. But maybe you all know your -stan capitals better than I do.
Puzzle starts out great in the NW—AIR QUOTES (1A: Sarcasm indicator) over CHEAT SHEET over HOT TAMALES is a delicious opening gambit. Puzzle's weakest in the W where ON NOW and NO EVIL are kinda wobbly and feel like partials, and TRINES is just ugly (as is the easier-to-get EGEST and SST). Actually, with the exception of the mighty WINGMAN (2D: Lead pilot's support), most of that area down into the SW is just OK at best. But things better in the SE, with the double-X EXXON-MOBIL (59A: Union in 1999 news) and the retro video EIGHT-BIT video game (38D: Like some old gaming consoles). I love Elvis Costello, so I was more than happy to ride "MY AIM IS TRUE" up into the NE (where all was smooth sailing, YOST / ASTANA notwithstanding) (10D: Elvis Costello's debut album).
LEE ELDER so easily (I couldn't tell you anything about him, and my brain initially wanted something like LEE EVERS or EDGAR ... maybe a mash-up of MEDGAR EVERS????), but years of watching ESPN must've put his name in my brain somewhere (33D: First African-American golfer to play in the Masters). "Groundhog Day" is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I was surprised to blank on the director at --M--. Then I thought, "aha, DEMME!" Wrote it in, but it felt wrong. Finally remembered Harold RAMIS (34A: "Groundhog Day" director). Totally remembered OSMAN this time—got it with just the "O" and didn't even need that (6D: 13th-century empire founder). Can't believe it's taken this long, but I think I've finally got him tucked safely in my crosswordese arsenal. Then of course there's HAL, which I got off the "A"—another movie that I love. Really hard for me not to like a puzzle with Elvis Costello, "Groundhog Day," and "2001"— my happiness at encountering things I love is probably what's keeping me from harping on XOO (60D: Unhelpful noughts-and-crosses line) or EHLE (52A: Jennifer of the BBC production "Pride and Prejudice") or A TINGE (13D: Not much, colorwise) ... my favorite pop culture apparently acts like a muscle relaxant for my gripe muscle.
- 19A: Antagonistic org. in "The Simpsons Movie" (EPA) — I had forgotten this (only saw the movie once), but when I got it I laughed out loud. My first guess was FBI.
- 7D: Muse of comedy (THALIA) — memo to self: memorize world capitals and also muses.
- 11D: Tacky yellow thing (POST-IT) — excellent clue.
- 47D: 1990s party name (REFORM) — I could see (and, unfortunately, hear) Ross Perot in my head, but I totally blanked on the name of his party. I'm hoping that following the election on Tuesday, there is a good 3-month moratorium on all talk of politics anywhere in the vicinity of me. OK, 3 weeks. Everyone talk about literature or movies or music instead, OK? Great.