Queen pop music nickname / SUN 6-26-16 / OutKast chart-topper / Supercontinent of 200 million years ago / Subj for radio astronomer / Food feelings after big meals / River tributary of Thames / Tree with catkins / Seal of Solomon others

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Constructor: Priscilla Clark and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium (assuming you know all the MLB teams)


THEME: "Sports Page Headlines" — phrases that look like baseball headlines are clued as ... I don't know, something else:

Theme answers:
  • MARINERS BATTLE PIRATES (23A: Conflict at sea) (bad outlier—all the others are about losses)
  • TIGERS CAN'T HANDLE CUBS (47A: Parenting problem at a zoo) (how are these not "?"'d?)
  • YANKEES DEFEAT REDS (69A: Cold War synopsis)
  • PADRES BOW TO CARDINALS (94A: Show of respect at the Vatican)
  • NATIONALS TOPPLE ROYALS (120A: Overthrow of a monarchy)
Word of the Day: KOSS (8D: Big name in headphones) —
Koss Corporation is an American company that designs and manufactures headphones. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin since 1958, the company invented the first high fidelity stereophones. Koss continues to design and manufacture headphones and audio accessories. (wikipedia)
• • •

I am huge baseball fan, so I should've loved this, but Oh Man I did not. I thought that at least I might get *different* "sports" (as implicitly promised by the puzzle's title), but no. It's just all .. baseball teams. And all ... imagined headlines of hypothetical outcomes, four of which involve losing, and one of which involves simply "battling." For some reason. God how I wish interleague play weren't a thing, both because I genuinely hate it and because then 80% of these imagined sports headlines would be inconceivable (except as World Series headlines) and then maybe this puzzle wouldn't exist. It's hard to explain how joyless I found this. Perhaps this is because I Love crosswords and I Love baseball, and when you put them together, I expect Love-squared greatness. But here, what I get is so dull and straightforward, I don't really understand how it qualifies as a theme. Certainly not a theme in the self-described "best puzzle in the world."

 [At a Yankees game last year: (top) Mike Nothnagel, Doug Peterson, (bottom) Brad Wilber, Sam Ezersky, me; not pictured: the rest!]

Are NATIONALS ... what are nationals? They're just citizens of a particular country. Does the puzzle mean "nationalists"? I can't imagine a political headline of "NATIONALS TOPPLE ROYALS." And "Yankees" is not a term associated with the Cold War. Google [Yankees Reds Cold War] and you get some baseball sites, some Cold War sites that explicitly exclude the word "Yankees" from the search, and also you get a one hit for the official blog of the NYT Crossword itself (telling you how great this puzzle is, no doubt). This is botched left right and center, at the thematic level. As for fill, it's fine. Acceptable. Neither great nor terrible. But the theme is D.O.A. and then some. The only one of these that works on any level is TIGERS CAN'T HANDLE CUBS (it's cute to imagine). None of the other team names *really* go together. They're forced. And in the service of what? Bland, boring, monotonous.


No real trouble except in the HAN / TOTO section. I don't remember TOTO harassing the Cowardly Lion. I wanted FEAR there. Or maybe GNAT, I don't know. HAN I know as a Chinese ethnicity, not as characters. GEM did not come easily at all for the Pink Panther clue. HOVER CAR seems made-up. I absolutely needed to know TIGERS were a baseball team to get that section, which made me pity all the non-sports fans who do the puzzle. Normally, I don't pity these folks at all, but today, it's just the *one* sport, and there are ten different team names to get here. You should be able to get them all, but I can see non-baseball fans getting slowed down badly. *I* got slowed down just by mentally scrolling through all the teams trying to find the right one. Ugh. Death this puzzle was. Next!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

89 comments:

jae 12:38 AM  

Medium for me too with the top half easier than the bottom. Liked it more more than Rex did, a nice Sun. workout, but then I knew the teams.

rachelrauch 12:40 AM  

OOF. This puzzle was a real slog for me. My knowledge of sports and their various teams is so limited that I didn't even realize the theme answers were all baseball teams. They were just names that, after enough letters filled in, I vaguely remembered as having something to do with sports (I mean obviously I know the Yankees...but most of these? no clue). I also bristled a bit at the "'Inside the N.B.A.' airer" cluing for TNT, when there were plenty of other ways to go with that. Didn't this puzzle already have enough stumbling blocks for those of us who know nothing of athletics? haha ... I did quite enjoy the ADOBE/ABODE thing in 15 & 80 across, but other than that, this thing was a BATTLE for me.

George Barany 12:59 AM  

This is evidently @Priscilla Clark's New York Times debut, so congratulations for that ... and a tip-of-a-Twins cap to @Jeff Chen for his role in bringing this puzzling project all the way home.

@Rex's point-of-view on the puzzle is understandable. I too am a big baseball fan, and was wondering why a puzzle that has "sports" in the title would focus only on baseball teams. Then it hit me ... I've seen this theme before!

@Rabbi Gunther Plaut reached the age of 99, and authored numerous seminal texts of importance to Reform Judaism. For many years, he was affiliated with our synagogue in Saint Paul, Minnesota (though before we joined). Allow me to paste in the closing anecdote from his New York Times obituary, dated February 12, 2012.

In 1935, shortly after he came to the United States, the future Rabbi Plaut received an eloquent lesson in textual interpretation and the reader’s need for a learned guide. Newly arrived in Cincinnati, he was shown an article in the sports section of a local newspaper by his fellow seminarians.

Glancing at the headline, he recalled years later, he thought the article was about a revolution in Italy.

The headline said, “Reds Murder Cardinals.”

chefwen 3:23 AM  

Wow! We had a totally different take than Rex. We loved it! Got about half way done and handed it over to my sports loving husband knowing that he would get a big kick out of it, and he did.

Loved the ADOBE/ABODE little trick.

Growing up in Milwaukee I remember the big KOSS billboard off of I43 (if memory serves). It was always very clever and they changed it every few months. I don't know if it's still there, but at one time I had an idea for a cute one. Mickey Mouse down on one knee with a pair of KOSS headphones on saying "Why? BEKOSS we like you". Well, I thought it was a great idea, but I never put it forth to the powers in charge. Disney probably would have charged thousands in copyright fees.

Great puzzle, we had a blast, thanks!

Anoa Bob 3:23 AM  

My enthusiasm for this one began to SAG with the first themer. I had to do a word check to make sure MARINERS BATTLE PIRATES was correct. MARINERS make up the broad category of all the people who go to sea in ships. PIRATES make up a subset of people who go to sea in ships. Hence PIRATES are MARINERS. So MARINERS BATTLE PIRATES seems nonsensical to me, in the same way DOGS BATTLE POODLES (clued as "Canine conflict") would seem nonsensical.

Count me as one who doesn't associate YANKEES with the "Cold War", so that one clanged off the back of the rim for me, so to speak. And maybe KREMLIN, INC. might disagree with the DEFEAT part.

Liked seeing PANGAEA.

Leapfinger 4:37 AM  

HEYYA, @Rex, I can't figure out your beef with the theme. You say that four themers involve losing and one 'just BATTLES'. Let's face it, unless it's a sport that allows tie games, every time there's a contest, one team wins and one team loses. [You can check this out with your MATER and Pater.] The way I see it, the wording of the 'headlines' reflects this.

Winners:
YANKEES DEFEAT REDS
NATIONALS TOPPLE ROYALS

Losers:
TIGERS CAN'T HANDLE CUBS
PADRES BOW TO CARDINALS

Unspecified:
MARINERS BATTLE PIRATES

With an odd number of theme entries, that latter is the touch that makes it perfectly balanced: two relate to the win, two to the loss, and one to neither.

Not that I even noticed this till you SNEERED all over it. CHUTE, that was no reason for the OLD MASTER to be LEANNing on this nice Sunday debut. Especially when the Dev's in the DEETS.

Me, I enjoyed the disbelief and headscratching of TSAA___, and the ODDMENT of SOFTBOIL HOTPANTS. I was never bored, and it's always nice when a TALLIS MAN can start Sunday with a BIALY and LOX.

Congrats, Ms Priscilla! I'll bet Bernice Gordon is smiling right now.

'mericans in Paris 5:30 AM  

@Rex sure had some "cross words" for this one!

We didn't find the theme brilliant, but it was mildly amusing. YANKEES DEFEAT REDS is a bit of a (7th-inning?) stretch, however.

TOTO was an early entry. It was the little dog who proved that the lion was actually a scaredy-cat, when he jumped down from Dorothy's arms and started barking at the sudden intruder.

The 3D-30A crossing was almost a Natick for us, but guessed correctly that the finish of ABRA_ must be an "M". I wonder how many solvers out there actually knew the middle name of President Garfield?

Like OFL, we knew of Han as an ethnic group, but not a logogram,
but according to Wikipedia, "In English, they are sometimes called Han characters". Learn something new every day, and all that.

Another distinguishing feature of this puzzle was that it had more tree names as answers than you could shake a stick at.

Over here in Gay PAREE, the mood is pretty somber following the astonishing Brexit results. Cameron & Co. cooked their own ASSES several years ago by making it more difficult for college students to vote in the cities in which they were matriculating. Their objective was to reduce the weight of left-leaning young people when they VOTE ON other issues, but those votes would have made a big difference to the Remain cause.

Much talk now of whether the UK will break up, with Scotland demanding a new referendum to leave (and rejoin the EU), NATIONALiSts calling for the unification of Ireland, and Spain reigniting its claims to Gibraltar. One French colleague even speculates that Argentina may use the current chaos to invade the Falklands again.

My fear is that all this turmoil and uncertainty will help Trump. We are certainly entering a new and dangerous ERA.

G.Harris 5:53 AM  

Got the theme early on and that made the solve a lot easier. However, almost blew it because I had lose for toke and Alec's for aleck. Which gave me deli which meant nothing to me. After I redid lose and got set I I still was uncertain but then google reassured me that it was right.

Loren Muse Smith 6:05 AM  

Wow. I loved this. And I'm not at all a baseball fan. At all. So I didn't understand that some of these match-ups would never take place out in the wild. And if I had known, I would have cared not one whit. I was surprised by the vitriol.

When YANKEES DEFEAT REDS fell, I was delighted. I just thought that YANKEES referred to Americans. Aren't we Yankees when we're making ASSES out of ourselves in other countries? Or during a mystifying election season?

First thought on 1D – food "remorse." Too long. Almost every Saturday I eat an entire thing of Ben and Jerry's Boom Chocolatta. I've long abandoned even spooning it into a proper bowl. Yeah. Then I hate myself.

ODDMENT was a new one for me. This after I test-ran a new word from the ridiculous survival shows I can't get enough of now – "catchment" something like a leaf the size of a skateboard that can catch rainwater. You can also tie t shirts to your shins and run through tall dewy grass to absorb the water and then squeeze in into your mouth. (Are you writing this all down?) But I guess that'd be "sopment." Fwiw, if anyone else follows this stuff – I think my go-to guy would not be Bear Grylls, Les Stroud, or Hazen Audel, but rather Bill McConnell. He's the real deal, man.

I loved the clue for the adobe ABODE. And I had "dish" before SING.

Rex – good call on HAN. I ended up with "ran" crossing a "rover car," so I had a dnf. Never even questioned it.

PO PART – someone suggested yesterday that the municipal mainstays, POS, could be police officers.

Thanks, PC and JC. Fun Sunday romp. I really liked it. Off to do Longo's "Spelling Bee." I'm addicted to those things.

Aketi 7:21 AM  

@rex, I'm not a baseball fan, but the themes answers. were still very easy. I too liked TIGERS CANT HANDLE CUBS, mainly because I thought of Amy Chua, whose second daughter rebelled and smashed glasses in a restaurant in Moscow according to her book. I think she got the title of her book wrong. Real TIGERS aren't helicopter parents; they sleep 18-20 hours a day. It seemed like she worked far too hard for results that could have been achieved by her daughters with less of a BATTLE.

Finding UNICYCLE as an instafill was fun. I had one as a kid but it was really hard to learn to ride because we lived on a hill where even our driveway was on a slant, HOVERCARs seem like fun too.

Muscato 7:29 AM  

I'm always interested - on the rare occasions when it happens - when the usually unbeatable Rex hits a snag that I sail through. Even though I'm the world's biggest non-sports fan, something about this clicked and I cut more than a third off my average time for a Sunday (which I'm sure was still a great deal longer than our host's total time, despite the hiccups). I thought it was great fun, and I'll spend the rest of the day seeing Catholic prelates in baseball caps being amused by the antics of zoo families...

Anonymous 7:40 AM  

The only reason I can figure for the dislike of this puzzle by Rex is a bias against the NYT crossword puzzle editor. Thank goodness for Diary of a Crossword Fiend so we can all get a more balanced critique of the NYT puzzles. It's hard to believe how negative Rex can be.

Lewis 7:42 AM  

What? No headline with REDSKINS?

chefbea 7:45 AM  

Fun puzzle...knew the baseball teams. Never heard of Koss and had a heck of a time parsing tsaagent...thought maybe it was a character in a harry potter movie.

Had a great yardsale yesterday..got rid of lots of stuff so no time for saturdays puzzle.

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

@Anoa - can't agree. It's more like "the dogs at the dog park were beset on by a poodle." Even more so if poodles were generally bred to attack other dogs. What @Leapfinger said about winners and losers. Also, OFL's complaint that CUBS and TIGERS "going together" more than the other pairs is thin stuff. But I think I do have to grant his point about NATIONALS and his YANK nit.

Dave 8:01 AM  

I disagree with Rex's insistence that "Yankees" had nothing to do with the Cold War era - remember "Yankee go home"?

Glimmerglass 8:06 AM  

I liked the puzzle okay, but my gripe with the theme is that four of the verbs are trite sports metaphors, but DEFEAT is literal. I'd have liked something more from an ink-stained hack, like, say, REDS MURDER CARDINALS.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

Remind me not to read your column when I have my debut....

Howard Flax 8:33 AM  

Hey everyone! Thanks for the comments. Haven't posted on here in a long time. I really enjoyed this one, which for me on a Sunday means that it didn't feel like a chore to finish, which often times happens. I'm not a sports fan, so I wasn't turned off by the theme like Rex. It probably worked in my favor because I didn't over think it.

I initially had APB for AKA, UPON for UPTO, ROVERCAR for HOVERCAR, also threw down YANKEESBEATREDS too hastily. So, yeah, it probably was a medium for me too.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

NCA President 8:59 AM  

I was okay with the theme but I also was disappointed that it was only baseball teams. I am only a baseball fan in October...maybe late September if the pennant races are close. I have no team that I root for specifically, and I only ironically hate the Yankees. Anyway, I would have appreciated the inclusion of the NBA, NFL, NHL, or a combination thereof. Maybe having cross-league references?

Didn't like: ODDMENT. HOVERCAR. BEE v. BEY. Or two "long stretches."

I know of a Pia MATER...not the Dura version.

RAD and DEETS are those kinds of words that were hugely popular a few years ago with kids...but now only old people use those words as "modern" colloquialisms and kids will laugh when you use them. So don't. Use your own generation's words...kids respect that a lot more than when adults try to speak their language. So, RAD ("Kewl!"...ugh) and DEETS (Particulars, in slang), when included in this puzzle, show a person of a certain age...and not in a good way. TMI is on the cusp...

I didn't find this the shameful disappointment that Rex did, but there were some groans. But as a Sunday, it wasn't as bad as it's been.

QuasiMojo 9:02 AM  

Grand Slam. No bobbles. Fast and easy. I thought this was a fine, fun and fitting Sunday puzzle. Cute pic, Rex!

billocohoes 9:22 AM  

I've read ODDMENTs once in a while, but I don't think I've ever seen it in the singular.

Mary Perry 9:26 AM  

Still enjoying the Koss billboards here in Milwaukee!

kitshef 9:28 AM  

Slightly more difficult and slightly more fun than your average Sunday. Criticism of NATIONALS, okay. Criticism of YANKEES is unfair. It's a pun, not a history lesson.

Very full of myself when I put in OUTOFTruE off just the OU. The more smug you feel putting in an answer, the harder it is to abandon it, even when it becomes clear it's wrong. I resisted the obviously correct ARNIE for waay too long.

Liked seeing ODDMENT, a very underutilized word.

Carola 9:30 AM  

I liked it. But then I like sports headline verb choices. When the University of Wisconsin women's volleyball team (that's my sport) comes out on top in a game, I look forward to the wording on the athletic department website, e.g., "Badgers Claw Wolverines.". The defeats are less vivid: "Gophers Edge Badgers" - I mean, we barely lost.

Anyway, I thought the puzzle was fun. I loved the TIGERS having problems with their CUBS, and I thought the PADRES BOWIng TO THE CARDINALS was inspired. Like @Dave 8:01, I had no problem with the Cold War YANKEES. Not realiziing that all of the teams were in baseball, I tried to fit Kings in where the ROYALS belonged. Speaking of ROYALS, I thought the three Queens were cute: DRAMA, BEE, and BEY. Lots more to like, too: PANGAEA, TALISMANS, LAWYERS UP, BAD DATES....

Mary Perry 9:31 AM  

This was enjoyable for me.

Teedmn 9:43 AM  

Congratulations to Priscilla Clark on her debut. I look forward to more from her.

Baseball is the only sport I really like and even then I don't exactly follow it but I found all of these team names easy to bring to mind and I thought PADRES BOW TO CARDINALS and TIGERS CAN'T HANDLE CUBS were fun.

I liked TSA AaGENT as a wand waver; had to take "magician" out of there. And my police blotter letters were Apb before AKA. I bialy got BIALY - had DuAD (huh?) for a moment at 102A but BIALu definitely wasn't getting me on a roll.

@LMS, the only one of the survival guys on your list that I've heard of is Les Stroud. I'd certainly not mind if he was along when I was stranded in the wilderness except for having to eat bugs. But did you ever watch "Man, Woman, Wild"? Mykel Hawke and his wife, Ruth England are in various remote areas with Mykel trying to teach his wife survival techniques. I suppose some would find it patronizing but it is similar to what would happen if my husband and I were in the same situation. I wonder if they are still married? We binge watched the two seasons a couple of years ago.

PanamaRed 9:55 AM  

@chefwen - I grew up in Milwaukee, too, and remember the Koss billboard - thanks for reminding me. I get up there once or twice a year - I don't think it's still there.

Like the puzzle way more than Rex.

Lewis 10:08 AM  

When is the last time Rex has gone three days in a row without panning the fill?

Whenever I do a puzzle, I have a scrap of paper on which I write, as I solve, especially appealing clues and answers. I also write down ugh words. I had nothing today. This doesn't mean that it's a flatline puzzle, just no strong highs and lows. It kept me engaged, and it was fun trying to figure out the theme answers with as little to work with as possible. Congratulations on the debut, Priscilla, and for your part as well, Jeff, for providing a solid, enjoyable experience.

I'm guessing the deadline made it impossible, but it would have been sweet if the clue for SITIN referred to the extraordinary House Democrats' action last week.

Aketi 10:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wick 10:19 AM  

I didn't hate the theme but like Rex thought it was executed blandly.

Had trouble in the same corner starting with PODRACER for HOVERCAR. That would be a more accurate answer anyhow. Anyone remember those mid-00's Star Wars movies?

Also, Queen BEE and Queen BEY, really?? Too close for comfort.

Nancy 10:21 AM  

Hi, Rex --

Can you do me a humongous favor and post my 8 a.m.-ish ridiculously long comment about my continuing phone situation nightmare -- left mistakenly on yesterday's (Saturday) blog? I can't possibly write it up again. Thanks so much.

Everyone: The bottom line is I had a phone line from Verizon that had no dial tone and that Verizon refused to repair. I now have a new connection from RCN that HAD a dial tone when the tech guy left, but has since disappeared. Once again, I have no landline. For more details, please go to the end of yesterday's blog. You may be able to supply certain info I asked for in that comment. I will repeat one thing I said: I AM GOING ABSOLUTELY CRAZY!!!!

Ellen S 10:25 AM  

I'm with the several non-sports fans who weren't bothered by the team names. I don't know their standings, what division they are each in, who their star players are, etc., but it's really hard to avoid hearing all the team names in the course of even the most sports-avoiding life. So I thought the theme was fun, and didn't obsess over the number of wins, losses, and games called on accounta rain. Or maybe going into so many extra innings that it was still going on when the newspaper went to bed. Like cricket. Anyway, I didn't care about that. I had fun putting the headlines together and got it right; that's all I needed.

And it was nice to see Roger Bannister again. There's only two jockeys, only maybe one hockey player, half a dozen baseball players and even if he doesn't show up too often, Roger Bannister. What's a Usain Bolt, anyway?

GILL I. 10:29 AM  

@Geroge B...REDS MURDER CARDINALS...Still laughing.
Well, I thought the theme was pretty durn good and my favorite was YANKEES DEFEAT REDS...Every country I've been to has called me a YANKEE. A damn one as well as a doodle dandy.
I did find some of the cluing a bit fiendish especially for that TSA AGENT. ODDMENT is a word I don't think I'd ever utter, but I sure liked OH BOO HOO.
Priscilla, maybe you and Jeff should have offered @Rex a BIALY with LOX in exchange for a nicety or two. I'm betting most will say this was a BELLE of a Sunday puzzle for your debut.

Roo Monster 10:45 AM  

Hey All !
Was stuck on the first themer, then glanced at the title, and said, "Oh, teams!" and wrote in PIRATES. After that, it was a touch on the easy side getting the rest of the themers. But that was OK by me. Had a couple of writeovers, for some reason can never remember BIALYs, and I worked in an in-store bakery that sold them! Took a second or two for ADOBE to appear, but after I sussed it, figured out ABODE, then DYAD (having had DuAD, further flummoxing my seeing of BIALY), and all was well. ODDMENT odd. Couldn't get TSA AGENT. Had TSArGENT. Said, "What in tarhooties is a T SArGENT?"

Never heard of Queen BEY, other Queens in here I knew. Didn't have an OH BOO HOO moment. Overall very nice SunPuz.

Always enjoy @Leapys play on words in the puz, but todays post was extra good!

Just the DEETS
RooMonster
DarrinV

Wm. C. 11:04 AM  



OK, @Rex, some of the fill phrases are a bit of a stretch as answers to the clues, but they aren't nearly as "off" as you claim. Chill, man, it's just a puzzle. Did you get up on the wrong side of your crib this morning? ;-)


Warren Howie Hughes 11:10 AM  

"In my ADOBE Hacienda, there's a touch of Mexico"

Passing Shot 11:16 AM  

No real problems, though I had "lose" for TOKE and my real headscratcher, based on having a D and an S, "PADRESBOWDOWNTOthedevils" -- making no sense whatsoever but would be an interesting sub-theme for one of Sistine Chapel frescos.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Thanks for the tip !

AskGina 11:29 AM  

Just out of college, I worked as a reporter for a few years. I liked the looseness and energy of the sports vocabulary and the sports writers were the happiest guys (back then they were all guys) to drink with (copious alcohol til closing, never seemed drunk). So, thought this would be a fun opportunity to use their lexicon. Close ('bows to') but no cigar.

MattG 11:34 AM  

I thought this was perfectly fine, except... In what world is CRUET/ETS preferable to CRUEL/ELS?

Alice B. Toklas 11:51 AM  

@Rex, take a TOKE and chill.

Da Bears 11:55 AM  

I am in a bad mood this morning so it was easy to like Rex's review. Besides, I had the same reaction, hoping for other sports. Puzzle had some clever headlines/clues but that was about it. Technically proficient but for a Sunday disappointing.

Lobster11 11:58 AM  

Evidently, this was one that some people loved and others hated. I don't really understand either. I thought it was pretty average Sunday fare, with an okay-I-guess theme, some clever cluing and some dull cluing, some good fill and some dreck. Whatever.

Got held up for a while in the West because I had "Tail" for TOTO. Doesn't the Lion remark during his song that he's afraid of his own tail?

Mohair Sam 11:59 AM  

This baseball fan totally disagrees with OFL today (except for his inter-league play rant). Found the puzzle a bit on the easy side but lots of fun. The headlines were clever - and I agree with @Dave that Americans were the YANKEE dogs so many REDs wanted to send home. Loved the TIGERS clue, and the PADRES headline too.

Don't know BIALY, and was saved from misspelling DYAD by puzzle partner. Might have made the rOVER for HOVER mistake too, but doesn't HAN sound so much more Chinese than rAN?

Had to Read "The Metamorphosis" in college and positively hated it, forgot SAMSA - every letter needed to fill today. Read Kafka's "The Trial" just a few years ago and it's one of my favorite reads ever. Go figure.

@Nancy - Big news! Watching my Phillies whup the Giants last night I saw an ad announcing that "VERIZON WANTS YOU BACK!". Thought of you immediately, natch. I jotted down the 800 number, let me know if you're interested and I'll pass it along.

Maruchka 12:11 PM  

Sort of slog-ish. Team names weren't a problem. The minutia was.. OH BOO HOO.

Love @GeorgeB's rabbi story. And thanks, @'mericans, for the Brexit analysis. I read today that there's a revote petition circulating. It was a strong turnout. I wonder if the continental members would be as closely pro-Frexit (-Germexit? -Neexit?) as Britain.

Bose/KOSS, Louric(?)/COURIC only do-overs. Lots of head scratching..

ADOBE - I love it. Lived in two such ABODEs for short whiles. Warm in winter, cool in summer=the most perfect indoor temperatures. And they're pretty.

Maruchka 12:16 PM  

P.S. Bill Cunningham. A friend who worked with Bill thinks he was the sweetest guy. I know I'll miss his remarkable eye for street fashion.

Joseph Michael 12:18 PM  

Not a big sports fan, but enjoyed figuring this out anyway. Don't understand Rex's inexplicably negative review. The puzzle deserved better than that.

Favorite themer: TIGERS CAN'T HANDLE CUBS. Favorite non-themer: TSA AGENT. Favorite piece of trivia: COURIC, Leno's only guest host in 21 years.

old timer 12:38 PM  

I too can't understand the hate here. I loved PADRES BOW TO CARDINALS, That made my morning. TIGERS CAN'T HANDLE CUBS was pretty good, too, and NATIONALS TOPPLE ROYALS was perfect.

On second thought, I can understand the hate. All but one of the themers involve interleague play. I, too, hate interleague play. Though as a Giants fan I do appreciate Buster Posey getting a day off from catching and coming in as a DH.

Has OFL ever said which team he roots for? He lives quite a ways away from any park.

I agree, YANKEES defeating the REDS was a stretch. Should have been "YANKs".

Technical DNF as a failed to put in the S in COMAS. And SAMSA is unfamiliar to me. I've read "The Trial" but not the other one.

Now I thought MARINERS battle PIRATES was just fine. MARINERS are the crew of ships. The PIRATES of our time do not usually sail ships. They are shore-based for the most part and even if they are not, I don't think of them as MARINERS at all.

Nor can I see anything wrong with NATIONALS overthrowing ROYALS. French NATIONALS certainly did once upon a time. So did Russian NATIONALS in 1917, setting up that eventual Cold War. Then of course you have Garibaldi and his crew who overthrew the ROYALS in Naples and Sicily, bringing an end to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The rebels fought to become NATIONALS of a united Italy. Before that, Italy was a peninsula but not a NATION.

jberg 1:23 PM  

When I started reading the comments there were 19 -- by the time I came to post one there were 49 -- burst of energy from @Rex (who is a Tigers fan, I believe, @old timer).

At one time I used to read Barron's financial weekly, and noticed that their headlines were pretty much like the sports pages. E.g., if ADOBE lost money, they would declare "Adobe gets muddy," or something like that. I got tired of it after a while.

My only real problem with this one was 'drive Time' before THRU next to 'ortS' before ENDS. Finally VIE made me see my way clear there. Also wanted Busta before LEANN for the rhyming Rimes (turns out he's Rhymes, anyway).

Note to Priscilla Clark -- first congrats; second, it's OK to put your initials in your NYT debut, but now you need to either never do it again, or do it every time.

art mugalian 1:32 PM  

Yanks was more common in Cold War headlines than Yankees, but I definitely remember major newspaper headlines such as Yanks Confront Reds in 1961 around the time of the Berlin Wall crisis and the World Series between the Yanks and Reds.

msue 1:43 PM  

My initial reaction was, "Ugh. Sports." It is rare for me not to find a glimmer of joy in a puzzle, but this one was just a slog from beginning to end. I'm glad that other people liked it, and I wish that my dislike was founded in something more substantial than theme boredom. But, there you have it.

ArtO 1:56 PM  

Expected more than baseball given the theme but not at all unhappy finding them all related to my favorite sport.

Found it tougher than most Sunday entries with hang ups in the same place as OFL.

Adding my voice to those who liked the puzzle and did not think it deserved such a negative write up.

Marco Polo 1:58 PM  

Correct. Check out this Youtube video entitled "Cuba Si, Yanquis No"
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=odWx8sQQACU

Mama Karma 2:22 PM  

Thought this was a fun puzzle. Interleague issue didn't bother me,as I know the team names, but can't remember which are in which league anyway!

Suzy 2:44 PM  

I liked it, too-- goodness, Rexy, you are hard to please! Just chewy enough for a Sunday! I'm with you,@Alice!

Aketi 2:47 PM  

Maybe the mention of water bugs caused my iPad auto correct to turn "bought him a cell phone " into "be ugly a cell phone". Just had to delete, correct, and repost.

@ LMS, you had to change your Avatar didn't you. I never understood why New Yorkers call them water bugs.

@Nancy, Cell phones can be educational. When my son was in fifth grade we bought him a cell phone because his school allowed him to walk there by himself and go out to lunch and we wanted him the be able too call us. Soon after he started telling me about this great story he had downloaded about some guy named Gregor who turned into a cockroach. Not having read Metamorphisis yet, I tihought he was reading some horror story written for tweens. So I read it too. I swear half the PPP answers I get right are things I learned from my son.

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

@NCA kids respect you more if you don't care whether or not you're jumping through their stupid hoops.

Hartley70 3:15 PM  

Not being a sporty type, I had to reach for the team names, but that's what made it a good Sunday here. I'm only unhappy with Sunday's puzzle if it's so easy it's a bore and consequently a slog. This was much tougher than usual, especially the bottom half because PADRES and NATIONALS did not come easily. I was up all night and this kept me company, so a big thanks to Priscilla and Jeff!

Z 3:50 PM  

My problem is that the TIGERS CAN'T HANDLE the effing Indians. As for the CUBS - I've been saying since April that they aren't making the play offs again and it looks like they are finally starting to prove me correct. (Hi @Evan)

I don't much enjoy 21x21 grids unless there is something truly special about them, so don't take my Meh reaction as anything about the puzzle. I thought the theme was decent, and I have no problem with them all being baseball. They had to be either all one sport or all different sports. Coming up with five different major sports would have meant delving into the MLS, so I'm good with all baseball.

snowcyclist22 3:52 PM  

Please...anyone...Niels Bohr focus was sing????

kitshef 4:42 PM  

@Nancy - we have a uniden dect 6.0 that has 1-touch ringer on-off.

LindsayZ 5:49 PM  

... I *really* don't get the hate for NATIONALS. They're a baseball team like all the others! The Washington NATIONALS.

I'm not even a baseball fan and I knew that. :p

Mike Rees 6:43 PM  

Sounded a lot like a review written prior to morning coffee. I thought the theme was clever and interesting and fun to suss out, especially since I'm only a baseball fan if the Blue Jays are in the playoffs (so, once every twenty years or so). Review was especially harsh for a NYT debut constructor. I thought the full was mostly non-dreck, I learned new stuff (as always) and finished well under my usual Sunday time.

A winner in my book.

Mike Rees 6:48 PM  

Add-on: I will concede the point that having the MARINERS only BATTLE the PIRATES is inconsistent with the rest of the themers. But I can't think of a workable alternative - can anyone else? All the good ones I can think of are five or seven letters.

rudiger45 7:09 PM  

Don't quite see the need to quibble about the theme answers, i.e., what NATIONALS, PIRATES and MARINERS really are. By limiting the theme to a mere 30 MLB team nicknames the constructors ensured that clever wordplay would be tougher to achieve; the result was fun for some, dull to others. Thumbs up from this Cardinal/crossword diehard.

BTW, MARINERS BATTLE PIRATES this coming Tuesday & Wednesday at Safeco Field in Seattle. Not on the ocean, and using baseballs, not cannonballs...

Andrew Heinegg 7:49 PM  

I don't always agree with OFL but, I have to affirm that this was a unenjoyable and uninteresting little voyage. The baseball puns were predictable and had a distinct lack of 'groaniness'. Add that to a lot of dull clues and answers and you come up with a less than acceptable puzzle. One of the worst Sundays in a while; I know Mr. Chen is a popular blogger and puzzle constructor but I find many of his efforts lacking. As always, there is no arguing with taste.

George Popov 8:04 PM  

It would have been nice to have the entire clue answer be teams, but not easy. What was easy was this puzzle.

Anonymous 8:43 PM  

a slog and unfun and if that is redundant so be it: a slog and unfun

puzzle hoarder 9:46 PM  

Still catching up on things from traveling. No time for analyzing this week. I did have clean grids on the last four puzzles. Today's was unusually easy as it went down in about half the usual time.
I had no time to comment yesterday at all. SOCLE was new because it's only appeared in Sunday puzzles previously and I used to skip those. A Sunday NYT in addition to our local Sunday paper was too much. Knowing SEKO made SOCLE easy to guess. TORTE was the last entry. Somehow I've never learned that the cakes always have an E at the end. Tort is strictly a legal term. Just another example of my blindness to the obvious. What's worse is that I was confusing tort with tart. That made the extra E seem even more incorrect.
Today's odd word for me was AMBIT. This marks the fifth time I've made a note of it in my Webster's. Maybe it'll sink in this time.



Anonymous 10:16 PM  

I checked out that website, and the most recent entry is from 2009?!

potagiere 10:20 PM  

Oh Rex! I can't live without you, but you are such a naysayer. Never a Sunday you didn't like.

Amy 7:17 AM  

let's hope ms Priscilla doesn't see fit to get fitted for a suit ! but merely enjoys a well deserved food coma after her bialy and lox --

Tita A 9:47 AM  

Complaining about interleague play? Don't some people call that the World Series? It's not only a thing, it's the main thing. The culmination of 150(!)+ regular season games.

So, I stopped being a baseball freak soon after high school, when it became even more blatant of a business rather than the bucolic pastime I imagined it to be. Rolled my eyes when I saw the title, but I fact, I did think it really clever. A "why didn't I think of that?" kind of theme.

Sure, some of Rex's criticisms are valid, but for me, a nice summer Sunday solve.

Thanks, PC/JC.

Alex 1:27 PM  

Hmm. I liked it better than Rex did, but that isn't unusual. I thought the themers were fun (especially the Tigers and the Cubs). I also thought that "pitched poorly" was a nice misdirect. I didn't breeze through this puzzle, but the only section that really gave me difficulties was the DYAD/DEICE/SETI section. I didn't know SETI, but I should have figured out the others more easily.
So, for me a good puzzle. I didn't have to google anything, but I did have to think and use crosses to figure out the answers pretty regularly. And it's funny - HOVERCAR/GEM/TOTO wasn't particularly difficult. But then, I also know what toile (and many other fabrics) is/are. And I never know the rap songs.

Nancy 2:36 PM  

I belatedly finished Sunday's puzzle, having found it hard in places and having been really distracted. I'm wondering why NOR is a logician's word. I had LOM instead of GEM at 49D, so I had TILERS at 47A and couldn't see that answer for the longest time. Mostly I liked the puzzle. Monday's puzzle is in my locker at the tennis courts in Central Park and I haven't looked at it yet. I'm back home waiting for the RCN repairman to arrive and chewing my nails.

John McKnight 4:34 PM  

rex is right. this was real bad.

Alex 7:32 PM  

Mike Reese - I would think that the Mariners could have shelled the Pirates, maybe.

Jennifer H 7:37 PM  

I got totally stuck in the NE for the longest time because I had AnODE at 80A ("the negatively charged electrode of a device supplying current") and the corresponding Anion at 15A ("a negatively charged ion"). I think that fits the "building material" clue pretty nicely!

It didn't help that I really wanted MARINERS BATTLE maRlinS, which is a funnier answer IMO.

But overall, I did better than average for a Sunday, probably thanks to the fact that I know my baseball teams and am good at long, puntastic theme answers. Too bad there was no shoutout for the Baltimore Orioles, a crossword friendly name if ever there was one.

cwf 10:55 AM  

Liked it, but couldn't figure out how to fit WINGEDMONKEYS into 4 squares.

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

Busta would have been a better answer than Leann for RImes with rhymes (although his last name is rhymes)

Burma Shave 10:46 AM  

HOTPANTS INTEL

HAVEPITY on the MAN’S manners,
the CON gives BADDATES GEMs.
Thus, each BELLE he ENAMORS,
the MOOR the OLDMASTER baits them.

--- ALECK COURIC

spacecraft 11:42 AM  

WWNAU (Words We Never Actually Use): ODDMENT (why not, over @93-down, "ENDMENTS?"), DYAD, DEETS. Other problems: "Rapt" is definitely NOT "FOCUSED." In fact, you could say it means the EXACT opposite. One who is rapt is blind to all else, so surely not FOCUSED on reality. Then, how is a CRUET an "Italian vessel?" Don't tell me it's because that's the typical container for...wait for it...Italian dressing?? If that's it, then IMO this clue bent so far over backwards to obfuscate as to incur a penalty stroke.

All this is evidence that Sunday is aspiring to become the new Saturday--and at 21x21, on steroids. HAVEPITY!

On the up side, I did enjoy most of the fill, such as TOKE next to SITIN--activities that often occurred simultaneously as I recall. When the you-know-whats weren't looking. And the last word recalls an iconic moment in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," when John Rhys-Davies saves our hero from a poisonous death by catching one of the BADDATES. As a baseball fan, I liked the theme OK, except that my team--the Phillies--wasn't included, but the hated YANKEES were--and as victors! However, no added stroke there; penalties do not recognize personal preferences. Momentarily shifting sports for today, I'll say they didn't knock this one out of the park, but beat out an infield hit.

rondo 12:25 PM  

A hundred times better than a rebus and no need for question marks. Thought it might be about more than baseball, but glad it wasn’t.

Country sangin’ yeah baby LEANN Rimes makes another frequent appearance. Seems like she’s been around for an EON, but she’s still in her early 30s and unafraid to appear in HOTPANTS. Also trying to work in a (baseball-related) Twins joke here.


Used to have KOSS headphones when they were top-shelf. Have gone other directions since.

LOX for @D,LIW. Still haven’t seen the Nova descriptor (maybe not scouting hard enough), but there has always been a lot of smoked salmon out there.

While filling in TALISMANS I was thinking that was probably the only way that MANS fits into a puz, but then the possessive MANS came around. I guess this was a TALISMANS MANS puz. And another with RON in it.

More cycling today, trying a new trail. (@teedMN I may try to report)

Doublemint gum vs. Coors beer – TWINS EXPOS ROCKIES’ BREWERS

RONdo 12:42 PM  

Yeah they're not the EXPOS anymore, just harken back.

Jentaps 4:48 PM  

Anybody notice that it is Baseball Season right now? Not hockey nor basketball nor football. I liked this puzzle just fine. Enjoyed the themers. Glad they stayed with teams that have been around for a while, and not Diamond Backs or some of the newer teams. Nice debut!

Diana,LIW 5:19 PM  

LOX! (Nova, of course) BIALY! Cats and kittens! What's not to love?

Just 'cause I haven't watched a baseball game since the Phillies played at Connie Mack Stadium doesn't mean all these teams were out of my ballpark. I mean, I listen to NPR and a local radio channel (sports comes on). I read the paper (we have a section called "Sports.")

Knowing Garfield's middle name or the term for Chinese symbols - that's crossword obscurity. Baseball teams? Not so much. They are ubiquitous pop culture.

So it was a fun Sunday battle for me. Loved those impish CUBS.

Now, must go out and play. Toodles!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Nova with a schmear

leftcoastTAM 10:09 PM  

To Rex:

OHBOOHOO. I thought the theme was great and well-executed. Inter-league baseball is not a problem but an advance. It makes both leagues' teams show from time to time that they can adjust to each other's rules and still play competitively and well.

This was medium-challenging and lots of fun, especially when three(!) of us (spouse and a good friend of ours) come together, get FOCUSED, go to BATTLE, and finally win in the NW, with SAMSA, ABRAM, and KOSS, we're all happy we stuck with it.

Thanks, Priscilla and Jeff, and Will, too.


Sailor 8:46 PM  

So, @Rex, if I understand your commentary correctly, you did not like this puzzle because it reminds you of interleague play, which you detest. Okaaaay... I'm hoping that you can appreciate that those of us for whom this is not a hot-button issue might have a very different take on this puzzle.

I enjoyed seeing the Mariners battle the Pirates last week, and I enjoyed this puzzle, too. I thought it was a well-above-average NYT debut by Priscilla Clark, and also benefited from Jeff Chen's expertise in crafting delightfully twisted clues. I found it to be easier than many Sunday puzzles, but also more entertaining than most!

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