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Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Constructor: David J. Kahn
Relative difficulty: Medium
- ERNIE BANKS (20A: Hall-of-Famer known as Mr. Cub)
- NIGHT GAMES (54A: Wrigley Field events since only 1988)
- CARAY (30D: Hall-of-Fame sportscaster Harry who regularly led Wrigley Field crowd in singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game")
- NATIONAL LEAGUER (4D: Cub, e.g.)
- IVY-COVERED WALLS (10D: Unique feature of Wrigley Field)
- and the rest... (bunch of little answers tie in)
"Baseball's Sad Lexicon," also known as "Tinker to Evers to Chance" after its refrain, is a 1910 baseball poem by Franklin Pierce Adams. The poem is presented as a single, rueful stanza from the point of view of a New York Giants fan watching the Chicago Cubs infield of shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance complete a double play. // Tinker, Evers, and Chance began playing together with the Cubs in 1902, and formed a double play combination that lasted through April 1912. The Cubs won the National League pennant four times from 1906 and 1910 (and the 1908 World Series), often defeating the Giants en route to the World Series. // The poem was first published in the New York Evening Mail on July 12, 1910. Popular among sportswriters, numerous additional verses were written. The poem gave Tinker, Evers, and Chance increased popularity. It has been credited with their elections to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946. (wikipedia)
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.”
• • •
After the longer answers, the Cubs-related stuff is just strewn in the grid willy-nilly. TOWN gets a forced Chicago clue (1A: "My Kind of ___ (Chicago is)") to go with symmetrical SOSA (69A: Cubs slugger with 609 home runs), but EVERS doesn't get anyone. A few clues get interestingly, unexpectedly baseballed—e.g. the ones on DOG (48D: Ballpark frank) and MOP UP (60A: Finish pitching in a lopsided game). We also have the strange occurrence of the horrible crosswordese NLER being spelled out fully in NATIONAL LEAGUER, which is ... I don't know if it's better or worse. It's something. It just would've been nice to have something besides a trivia-laden rush job. It's like the Olive Garden never-ending pasta bowl (I imagine): sure, you get a lot of pasta, and it is edible, but why not seek out something tastier, more authentic, more carefully crafted?
UP appears twice. STUBBLES is weird in the plural. CCLIV is CCLIV (Roman numerals should be a. very rare b. four letters max c. whenever possible, related to ... something, anything). I am a baseball fan so the baseball stuff was easy. Trouble spots were troubling due to non-baseball short fill like SAWS / ALTA, which I just bobbled, and LYON / SANA, which I nearly dropped, actually, and then ELOAN, which I forgot existed (50D: Internet finance firm).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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