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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Chicago Cubs — a tribute puzzle, of sorts, in honor of the Cubs' having just won their first WORLD SERIES (RING) in 108 years:

Theme answers:
  • 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)
Word of the Day: Tinker to EVERS to Chance (16A: Tinker to ___ to Chance (Cubs double play combo)) —
"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.”

• • •

This is the kind of quickly-concocted tribute puzzle you tend to get from the NYT after a major event, more often than not after the unexpected death of a famous person. I remember a Michael Jackson tribute puzzle very much like this. The idea: cram the grid with trivia. Just ... theme-related words. Shove 'em in. How many can you get in? Get in more. Puzzle! It's the art of cramming, not the art of constructing. There is no hook, no trick, no cleverness. Just put-a-bunch-of-Cubs-stuff-in-there. And not even current Cubs stuff. I don't see anything at all having to do with this year's team *except* the WORLD SERIES RING. Nothing wrong with shouting out Cubs legends, but the closest you get here to the 2016 Cubs is the clue for E.R.A. (21D: Stat for Jon Lester). Maybe the oldness is fitting given the grid's reliance on old, tried and true fill like CALE Yarborough and TIGE and INGE. Very, very backwards-looking in every way. Good for the Cubs, but this could've been a lot more current, and a lot more ... something besides simply crammed with trivia. It's an incredibly historic event. It deserves at least a semi-remarkable puzzle.

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

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Jeff Anderson 4:49 AM  

I think it is interesting, if unknown to the NYT folks, that today is the birthday of Franklin Pierce Adams, writer of Tinkers to Evers to Chance. Good ole FPA and his Conning Tower.

John Child 5:07 AM  

10-D had me thinking of Tom Lehrer's "ivy-covered professors in ivy-covered halls." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bATv2GwOs08

Wish I liked baseball, but I think everyone who doesn't live in Cleveland was pleased this year.

There are places in the greater Kathmandu area over 4,500 feet, bot the city proper and all the metro area are below that elevation. The clue appears to be taken from a Wikipedia "fact."

Loren Muse Smith 6:30 AM  

I saw almost right off the bat that this was a CUBS tribute and thought it'd be hardish for me. Not so. Even with the bajillion interlocking Cubs/baseball clues (!), I finished it quickly no prob.

Even ODOR is clued with a baseball term,”whiff.” Hah! Actually, if you squint, lots of clues have sly CUBS baseball clues: first place, balls, thrilling, play for pay, shag, barely beat…

STUBBLES sounds like "stumbles" said by a guy with a wicked-bad head cold. Heathcliff STUBBLES through the BOOR. Borose.

(@Z from yesterday – have to agree with @Stunk White – an ING word out in the wild by itself can be either a gerund or a present participle. Every instance of the ING word in his last post was a gerund. So…

She's squirreling away all the black jellybeans. – present participle
The squirreling away of black jellybeans is strictly forbidden. – gerund

I understand where you're coming from, though. Be it a present participle or gerund, it describes an action, so it feels verbish.)

I liked TROLLS crossing ASSES. Well, yeah. Jerks.

Lewis 6:37 AM  

My word of the day -- thank you, Rex -- is GONFALON, which I found out means a pennant (you're welcome). And GOUP is a DOOK.

Oh yeah, the Cubs! Remember that ELECTRIC feel-good moment? I almost forgot because it was obscured by a dark shadow. Every theme answer here pressed happy buttons, buttons the Cubs recently pressed, and reawakened a joyful feeling that has been SQUIRRELED AWAY. I'm deeply grateful for that, David!

I love the clue for EDEN, and liked the answers MOPUP and DROLL. There's a SPED up, a high TIDE, and EDGE is right where it should be. After yesterday's animal theme, we have an echo with DOG, GOAT (which has an appropriate cross with ODOR), some ASSES, and an anagrammed COWS. STUBBLES -- can that comfortably be used in this plural form? Will someone produce a sentence, please?

If the Cubs can win after such a long drought, then by golly, maybe there's a light to come at the end of Trump Tunnel.

Glimmerglass 6:37 AM  

Very easy. I'm not a Cubs fan, but this stuff is all famous baseball lore. Let's play two.

Passing Shot 7:06 AM  

Meh. Easy, boring, not a fan.

kitshef 7:21 AM  

If you’re going to go Random Roman Numberal, go big. CCLIV is so ambitions in its randomness that I’m going to give it, and this puzzle, a free pass.

Shame EDDIES couldn’t have worked Stanky in somehow. Man, that guy could draw a walk.

Dorothy Biggs 7:28 AM  

I am only an October baseball fan and I have never actually actively followed the Cubs (or any specific team, actually), but I was thrilled they won...and a little disappointed that I'd never cared about them, because I would imagine the elation of their winning the WS would have buoyed even the most casual fan through this past week. But even so, doing this puzzle did buoy my spirits somewhat...what a great story for the Cubs to have won the WS in such an otherwise crappy year as 2016.

Thanks to @LMS for pointing out the proliferation of baseball nods and hints throughout the puzzle. It elevates the quality of the puzzle, in my opinion. Seeing it that way adds a bit more to the solve than just filling in a bunch of baseball terms that are related to the Cubs. So I feel better about it overall following my experience and Rex's review. And the fact that today is Franklin Leopold Adams' birthday adds a little extra too (thanks @Jeff Anderson)...whether intentional or not, it certainly is a cool shout out.

I am amazed by the poem, though. Look at the vocabulary. You'd think we, as a species, would evolve to higher planes of speaking, thinking, and understanding...but I'll just leave this here:

“The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become." Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

This might explain a lot...

Elle54 7:35 AM  

Wow! A tribute puzzle for my city and my Cubbies in the NYT.!! We went to spring training , Cubbies home games and had the TV on to Almost every game all summer. Just took down the W flag we had up all year! ( because we needed it in the pic we took outside of Wrigley) Love the Cubs, Love Chicago! Loved the puzzle!

Lewis 7:42 AM  

David did flex some constructing muscles here. Two vertical grid spanners each cross the horizontal grid spanner plus another theme answer. Also, there are only six 3's, pretty low. With this I can accept a random Roman numeral, and maybe even STUBBLES.

Pete 7:58 AM  

I'm only the most casual of baseball fans, but still was somewhat happy for the Cubs with their win. Until today that is.

evil doug 7:59 AM  

That Sosa clue should have had an asterisk. I was a big fan of the Sosa-McGuire home run battle, but once the steroid use was revealed Sammy became an unwelcome part of Cubs lore.

Knitwit 8:03 AM  

Go Cubs Go!!!! Loved it!!

Airymom 8:20 AM  

I have a real problem with the clue for 9A. The "former Mrs. McCartney" is Heather Mills. They were divorced. Linda Eastman was not the "former" wife. She was his first wife who tragically died at age 56 after 29 years of marriage. "Former" wife means there was a divorce. I would bet that to Paul McCartney, he will always consider Linda his wife. Very surprising mistake by the NYT.

Hungry Mother 8:30 AM  

i knew most of the answers, but still took longer than a usual Tuesday.

chefbea 8:34 AM  

What a great puzzle!!! Isn't a tribute puzzle supposed to be all sorts of things thrown in???
I sure remember Harry Caray...he use to announce all of the cardinal games and sing take me out to the ball game...during the seventh inning stretch

ArtO 8:37 AM  

Thanks to NCA President for possibly explaining what happened last week with an Adam Smith quotation.

Happy to see a Cubs tribute no matter how much it offended OFL with some stuff with which he usually finds fault.

Unknown 8:39 AM  

As a non-Cubs fan, this was wearisome. But I guess once in 108 years I can put up with it.

RAD2626 8:40 AM  

Thought the puzzle was fine and a suitable tribute. Played easy although the final letter of SANA/LARA was a guess. There is no question that Tinkers, EVERS, and Chance are in the HOF as a result of the poem. Their career numbers do not warrant their enshrinement. You can look it up. Only Maz challenges them for being a one hit wonder.

Beaglelover 8:49 AM  

I agree with @evil doug but I'd take it a step further and say SOSA should never be a clue! Sosa, Maguire and Bonds are all cheaters. Baseball's handling of their cases left the door open to younger players to use steroids too.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

I am a 25 year old baseball non-fan. This might as well have been a Friday for me.

Wm. C. 9:17 AM  

To me, living at 4500 feet is no big deal. I once lived on a ridge in Colorado Springs looking down, southward, at Garden of the Gods, the NORAD HQ in the distance, and up at Pike's Peak. 6,000 feet.

I always looked forward to the May spectacle of the Air Force Academy graduation, with the Academy located northward, on the other side of the ridge. At the end of the graduation ceremonies, the AF Thunderbirds flight team would do a "surprise" low-altitude fly-over. To accomplish this, they'd "loiter" on the south side of the ridge out of sight and hearing of those at the Academy, but directly a mile or two below my house. At the right time, they'd form up and pop up northward, a few hundred feet over my house at several hundred mph (I'm guessing) before dropping down on the other side of the ridge over the graduating class with full afterburners. It was very exciting seeing these planes coming right at us, then shaking the house as they flew over.

Back to Altitude: I had very little problem acclimating to 6,000 when I returned from trips. But my wife had a lot of difficulty with headaches and fatigue for a few days after returning. One miscellaneous negative was that water boiled at a lower temperature, making it take longer for my morning boiled eggs to be ready. ;-)

There was one very good aspect to the altitude: My golf drives travelled an extra twenty-five yards or so. ;)

Oh, yeah, the puzzle: I thought it was fine for a Tuesday. A few areas gave me a bit of push-back (Lara/Lyon, Typos/Cale ... ), which is good, but overall no problem. Although I'm an AL-Bostonian, I have a very clear vision of Wrigley's IVYCOVEREDWALLS for some reason, which quickly slid in to start. As for OFL, it seems to me that he gets an initial good-or-bad feeling about something and then --if bad-- piles on with many invented criticisms. Sheesh, @Rex, it wasn't that bad. Take a deep breath and chill out. ;-)

Unknown 9:18 AM  

The same thing struck me. The late Mrs. McCartney would have been more appropriate.

jberg 9:31 AM  

Only two problems with this one -- thinking it was EVanS, and thinking he was CAReY.

I think I agree with Rex about the cramming in of short Cubsicana. Too easy if it doesn't have to be symmetrical.

CFXK 9:33 AM  

22D. Given that the equivalent term (NOT false equivalence!!) for "Cubs' divisional rivals: Abbr." is CARDS, wouldn't a more consistent clue be something like "CHC's divisional rivals?"

Dorothy Biggs 9:42 AM  

@CFXK I think you're onto something there...but the 3-letter abbreviation for Chicago is usually CHI.

GILL I. 9:45 AM  

Baseball...yikes! I know so little. My parents though, loved it. They were Yankee/Dodger fans - I can't remember who loved what, I just remember that they would always watch the World Series on a big old black and white TV with a bunch of Cuban friends and drinking mucho rum. Cubans were/are huge baseball fans.
I got held up all over the place. CARAY/ELROY was a guess. I had to GO UP to MOP UP then go down again and finish SNORT SPEC SOSA. At least I knew that slugger. I TRY DIDI.
Hope lots of you fans enjoyed it..

Happy Pencil 9:48 AM  

I thought the puzzle was perfectly fine, but I sort of object to seeing the same constructor's name twice in less than a week. That seems lazy and/or badly planned to me.

I agree with @Airymom's comment about Paul McCartney's "former" wife. It's probably not a mistake, per se, but it's not the most precise use of the word. I guess they were hoping for some mills/LINDA misdirection, but still ...

Good puzzle for Cubs fans and those who live in Chicago. Great city that produced a great president.

QuasiMojo 9:49 AM  

Perhaps I live in an ivory tower even higher than Nepal. But this puzzle was appalling. And not just for the ghastly "stubbles." Not only do I find the tendency to incorporate current events in the puzzle annoying and a bad direction to go, but for someone with no interest in baseball it was torture. I am not saying you can't have a baseball-themed puzzle but give us something else to go on. I naticked at the Elroy/Ren/Caray section since I do not count myself as an expert on sci-fi (I've already been on the record twice for walking out of Star Wars when it premiered,) or sports trivia. That was brutal and unfair. So I cheated and came here. I had Elton which seemed more apt. Yet, and this is a big YET, I realize the puzzle is not composed just for me (I am not like the poor girl in Endeavour who had a secret admirer penning puzzles for her benefit, or his, to be more precise.) I hope tomorrow's concoction returns to "normalcy." No more "enigma variations" please.

CFXK 9:52 AM  

@NCA President: Yes, normally. But in MLB, CHC is used to distinguish the Cubs from the White Sox (CHW).

Re 9A: How about "First name of photographer who took album cover photo on Tom Wait's "Circle Game" featuring songs written by Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Todd Rundgren before ANY of them were famous (including the photographer)"

OK, kinda long, but a fun, amazing fact anyway.

CFXK 9:57 AM  

Yikes! Correction to comment above; "Tom RUSH's 'Circle Game'"

puzzle hoarder 9:57 AM  

When was the last time @Rex wasted any money on TP? Judging by today's review he just keeps a stack of old NYT puzzles by the toilet. As a Chicagoan I appreciated this timely construction and it's reminder of that happy time between the World Series and the election. Thanks for throwing some cold water on it @Rex.

RooMonster 10:02 AM  

Hey All !
Nice tribute puz. I like the cramming of themes. As long as fill doesn't suffer too much, I think the more theme, the merrier! Looking over puz, the only real Ugh-ness is the RRN, but as @kitshef said, Go Big! Oh, GAOL has a dreck-Whiff to it.

SNORT is odd as clued. Thought Harry spelled it CAReY, so a DNF (one letter, of course) there. Hey, GeOL sounded just as good.

GPUP! And cracked up at @LMS's last sentence. Great stuff!

It's ELECRTRIC (Boogie Woogie Woogie Woogie)

Mohair Sam 10:03 AM  

Maybe someday my Eagles will win their first Super Bowl, maybe. I hereby free the NYT puzzle from its perceived obligation of running a freaking tribute puzzle for the event.

This played super easy for this baseball fanatic. LINDA McCartney clue was clumsy at best, bad form NYT. ELROY freakin' Jetson? C'mon, there have to be a hundred better ELROY clues. Shouldn't the plural of STUBBLE be STUBBLE? I dunno. I'm thinking of submitting of tribute puzzle to roman numerals.

The heck with Tinker to EVERS, my favorite double play combo will always be "Ryan to O'Brien to Goldberg" - song and dance by Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra in "Take me out to the Ballgame" a long long time ago.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:06 AM  

I didn't mind the puzzle, for a Tuesday. Hated the cluing. 'Moves like a whirlpool' for EDDIES. Yeah, EDDY can be used as a verb, but it feels forced. 'Like some humor' for DROLL. clunky attempt at a misdirect.

And can I use STUBBLES in a sentence? It would likely be something about the dust bowl, ghostly stubbles from failed attempts at harvests, I dunno. If I had to.

RooMonster 10:09 AM  

GPUP?? Ha! Supposed to be GOUP!, of course. And I think I added one too many Woogies.

Chewbacca dancing? Wookie woogie.


Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Southwest corner was very bad.

Alex 10:12 AM  

I am a Cleveland Indians fan (I grew up outside of Cleveland) so this puzzle cut deep. When I think about the fact that two weeks ago today my world seemed so bright - I truly believed that the Tribe was going to win the Series and Secretary Clinton was going to be our President. Oh, those happy days. Oh, well.

Ω 10:16 AM  

Huge Tigers fan here, so this was beginner easy for me. In West Michigan the Cubbies are second only to my Tigers in baseball popularity. My mom listened to WGN radio, so Cubs games could be heard in the afternoon in my house. Still, I couldn't help but wonder a few things as I solved. 1. What about non-baseball fans? 2. Why now (I mean, they've been the favorites since last off-season, we couldn't have one ready for the day after? 3. Sosa? I also agree with Rex, this time bad but really, this is the best you can do?

@Beaglelover - I don't buy the "open the door to younger players" argument. There's an old baseball saying, "If you ain't cheating you ain't trying." (this really is an old baseball saying) MLB and ESPN conspired to hype the home run record chase and it was completely obvious to anyone who followed the game that something was amiss. But what they conspired to do was to turn a blind eye to players breaking the rules, it is still on players that they chose to take performance enhancing drugs. Dee Gordon (to pick on a player I like) did take 'roids because of a Maguire and Sosa. He did it because it got him a $50 million contract.

@John Child - I looked at the wiki citation for the elevation claim. It apparently was based on information on the City's website. I say apparently because I got a "page not found" message when I clicked through and even if the page had been found it was in an alphabet I don't read,

@LMS - Examples! Okay, I may be wrong but I'm not giving up yet. What you're suggesting is that in the phrase The squirreling away of the speaker has taken a noun, verbified it, then nounified it? That much work just seems wrong (even if we do all the work without any working involved). But, BUT, it isn't actually a case of "how you use it." To make yesterday's examples into gerunds one would have to add "of" to the phrase, i.e. it isn't the "ing" here that makes the phrase a gerund, it is the "of" doing the nounifying work. So the answers as presented can only be verbs.*

*Someone invariably complains at this point about the debate and our pedantry. C'mon man - revel in it. No parts of speech have been harmed in these comments.

Malsdemare 10:19 AM  

Whoa! I did a baseball puzzle in one of my fastest times ever and had to ask cubby hubby just two questions (which I would have gotten with crosses but he REALLY wanted to help when I told him what the theme was). UTES always reminds me of "My Cousin Vinnie." Had no idea how ELROY or REN were so guessed on the R, the only logical letter. Ya gotta feel sorta sorry for Chicago, to win the series and then watch the election results. They sure didn't get much time to savor the victory.

@Airy Mom. I wondered why the McCartney clue bothered me; now I know. And @evil doug, agree about SOSA; I winced filling in that one. 609 hits is not how I remember him.

Ω 10:21 AM  

"also agree with Rex, this time bad but really, this is the best you can do?" Huh? I thought I wrote, "this wasn't bad but, really, this is the best you can do?" As if I need help not making sense...

Loren Muse Smith 10:28 AM  

@Z -
Grapefruit juice makes me happy.
David Sedaris makes me happy.
Ely, Minnesota makes me happy.
Squirreling away money makes me happy. (No "of" - it's still a noun.)

old timer 10:58 AM  

No problem here. Mondayish time. I became a Cubs fan the moment my Giants lost and saw every game. Okys there is that great Steve Goodman song that calls Wrigley the Cubs' "ivy covered burial ground." Not this year!

So I will pick no nits. And I loved seeing the full NATIONALLEAGUER. No one is ever called a "NLer". But Buster Posey and his team are NATIONAL LEAGUERs for sure. In our league Madison Bumgarner is a real threat to hit a home run.

Numinous 11:02 AM  
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Nancy 11:05 AM  

Thought for the day: If you add the STUBBLE of Tinkers to the STUBBLE of Evers to the STUBBLE of Chance, then I guess you will have STUBBLES. Other than that, a pretty awful word.

I don't mind that this puzzle has a lot of baseball in it. I like baseball. But, for the second day in a row, a puzzle with No Thinking Required.

And also, I've been too preoccupied with SPINAL issues to think much about the puzzle at all. My neck and upper back are in terrible shape, my previous PT is "out of the country" right now and may be on the verge of retirement, and I've been finding out this morning that getting an appointment at a new PT facility is like getting an audience with the Pope. (With apologies to my Catholic friends on the blog.)

Numinous 11:09 AM  
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Numinous 11:20 AM  

I'm the king of the TYPO today!

SOSA, Bonds and Maguire! To me, they are the antithesis of what baseball should be. I was taught that baseball was about sportsmanship. That may be wrong but when I was a child, baseball was held up as equivalent to mom and apple pie. Sure, SOSA and Bonds and Maguire can be used in crossword puzzles clued as the unsavory characters they turned out to be.

Harry CARAY. Sadly, I never heard him announce a game. Being a Braves fan, I got to hear his son Chip Caray before he passed away. He had a lot of good lines but my favorite was whenever a foul ball went into the stands he would say, "And that ball was cought by a fan from Powder Springs!" Or whatever city or neighborhood popped up on his tongue at that moment. My better half used to wonder and wonder how he knew where someone was from until she finally figured it out. The Braves also have Skip Caray whom I have heard singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game when the Braves played in Chicago. He would sing, "Root, root, root for the Braves . . ." I reckon the three CARAYs rank right up there with Mel Allen and Vin Sculley.

I found this to be really easy. Knocked it off in five minutes under my Tuesday average. I'm not a cubs fan or I wasn't until a few weeks ago. In spite of being from LA for 20 years, I wasn't sorry when the Dodgers lost to the Cubs. The Cubbys were due, I'm just sorry that Harry, and Chip, for that matter, didn't live to see it.

I can't say I mind RRNs. I remember learning to do arethematic in the Roman fashion using RNs and no zero. Talk about a serious PITA. I liked IVY COVERED WALLS. I've seen a player reach in and grab a ball that hit the wall and throw it to first trying for an out. I really enjoyed the cluing and was amazed by all the peripheral Cubs and baseball cluing @LMS.

This puzzle was right in my grandstand.

Masked and Anonymous 11:28 AM  

@RP: Hey -- coulda been far worse. Mighta been a Trump tribute puz. [shudder] So … Go Cubs!

I kinda got a kick out of the over-the-top baseball stuffins, in this puppy. @muse already spotted some of the clue contributors to this. @RP pretty much covered the small-ball fillins. What is left for M&A to contribute? …. ahar … desperation-ball! ...

* CCLIV. Better clue: {Batting average that barely hits most Roman senators' weight?}. [fave example]
* AGES: {Period between Cubbie championships}.
* REGALE: {Gussy up for the World Series, say}.
* ASSES: {Nothing but ___ and elbows (Cubbie hustle sight) }.
* SPED: {Rounded the bases in a hurry, say}.
* ELECTRIC: {Like the new scoreboard that turned neighborhood roofs into obstructed views}.
* ITRY: {Unsuccessful homer-catching Cubs bleacher bum's comment}.
* PLOT: {Base for Wrigley Field?}.
* REN: {Ner backing??} (!!) [fave weeject]
* DESK: {Sports ___}.
* EROS: {___ resol??}. [Too tricky? thought so.]
* SAWS: {"Ballcap worn upside down brings yer team luck", etc.}.
* DIDI: {"____ not ask for two Burnt City beers?"}.
* MEDIA: {Cubs win! Inform the ___!}.

… Just a sample, but U get the IDEA.

Thanx, Mr. Kahn. U a Cubbies fan? M&A's a Kahn fahn.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Hartley70 11:28 AM  

Very few people are less sports informed than I, and yet I had no trouble with today's puzzle. My only Cubs knowledge was gleaned from the final game in the World Series, so I saw the IVY on the walls and gathered the Cubs were from the National League. I had to phone a family member to find out what the "errors" meant. What? No punishment? The proper names were apparent from the crosses. It gave me an average time and didn't bore me a bit, so I liked this one, David.

I agree with @Airymom that LINDA deserved better.

Oh yes, @Mohair, STUBBLE should be the plural of STUBBLE.

@Puzzlehoarder, your opener cracked me up! I love a good laugh on dark days.

kitshef 11:33 AM  

I'm gonna jump in here and defend Joe Tinker. It is entirely possible, as @Rad2626 claims, that he is in the hall of fame because of the poem. It is also entirely possible he would be in anyway.

Most ranking systems (WAR, JAWS and the like) have him as anywhere from the 18th to 25th best shortstop ever. A couple of the guys ahead of him are not yet eligible (ARod, Jeter), so 16th to 23rd among hall-eligible shortstops.

Given that there are currently 24 shortstops in the hall of fame, Tinker belongs - certainly as much or more so than a Dave Bancroft or a Phil Rizzuto, both of whom are also in.

Hartley70 11:47 AM  

@WilliamC, I envy your ability to tolerate altitude, and sympathize with your wife. I had my only glimpse of the majestic Colorado Rockies in Aspen when I was much younger. On my third day of the ski vacation I passed out and hit the floor in a restaurant at the base, was taken to the hospital, then put on the first plane out to "anywhere". I didn't even get to retrieve my luggage from the hotel. I felt so "headachy" and nauseous, I hadn't even gotten one run in. It is not my favorite vacation memory and I'm unlikely to fly in unpressurized aircraft in the future. There's nothing like the lovely Green Mountains of Vermont for me!

Andrew Heinegg 11:49 AM  

I share your concern about how long it takes to get an appointment to see almost any kind of medical provider these days. The one thing I would remind you of is that the fact that you have to wait so long is at least an indice that the provider really knows what they are doing or it wouldn't take so long to get an appointment. I know. I know. It doesn't matter how good they are if you are not getting the treatment. Your body doesn't know it is coming eventually!

Hartley70 11:51 AM  

@WilliamC, Oh and you may notice that my avatar beagle is enjoying his first Vermont gondola ride up the mountain last month. He'll have to be content with more modest views than Colorado Springs offered you!

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

A-Rod will undoubtedly be eligible for the HOF in 5 years assuming he doesn't try some ill considered comeback. But, he will not get in any time in the foreseeable future. Between the steroids, the lying and denials about the steroids and other peds he used and the other bad behavior (most disliked teammate on every team he 'graced'?), he will need a lot of time and some people with short memories to get anywhere near Cooperstown.

Joseph Michael 12:05 PM  

Thought this worked well as a tribute puzzle and, after CVIII years of trying to win a WORLD SERIES, the Cubs certainly deserve one. The theme density was impressive, with cluing that turned even EDEN into a baseball clue.

Numinous 12:22 PM  

@William C, I used to spend my summers, as a child and teenager, camping in the Sierra Nevada between 5700' and 6800'. It was common for me to go from about 20 feet to over 6,000 in an afternoon. I never had a problem with altitude. I used to backpack with my grandfather between Utica Reservoir and Pinecrest lake. Those were the days, We never had to make a reservation to go anywhere in the mountains. All we needed was a topo map and a campfire permit.

chasklu 12:34 PM  

Had ENOS and LANA. Never thought of EROS, and never heard of Lara Logan.

Randall 12:42 PM  

This puzzle is an affront to we Chicagoans who are devoted fans of two baseball teams: The WHITE SOX and WHOEVER IS PLAYING THE CUBS TODAY!!

Though I was born in Chicago and lived there most of my 85 years, I've NEVER been to Wrigley Field to see the Dubs. I've been there fpr All-Star games, and Bears's games and played there in city high school championships. I'm consoled by having seen the Dubs lose in every National League Park and, most importantly, Comiskey Park.

As the late, great columnist, Mike Royko wrote, "The Cubs could draw 35,000 to Wrigley Field to see the grass be cut. Three hours later, 34,900 would walk out without knowing a game hadn't been played." And he was a devoted Cub "sympathizer".

JC66 12:45 PM  

@ Mohair Sam, @LMS told me the plural of stubble is OPERA.

RAD2626 12:45 PM  

@kitchef. Fair point. The other two much less defensible.

Carola 12:47 PM  

I enjoyed this tribute to Chi-TOWN, my Big City of choice. In a family who turned their allegiance to the Cubs after the Milwaukee Braves abandoned the state, I grew up with lore about ERNIE BANKS and Wrigley Field and perpetually disappointed hopes for "this year." Thanks, @Loren, for noting the many baseball embellishments. I also liked ELECTRIC x NIGHTGAMES.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

@Charles k

Can't say I had heard of Lara Logan either, but a quick Google shows her as one of the current 60 minutes correspondents. I guess that is an indication of how often I get to see the beginning of that show any more. It used to be one of my favorites, but CBS' 4pm football game ending times are so haphazard that it is almost never on right at 7pm in the East during the season.

As for the rest of the puzzle - no real nits as the crosses resolved any questions I had, like how to spell CARAY (GAOL I had heard of in an 'olde English' context).


Anonymous 1:11 PM  


Many have been critical of some the elections of the early 20th century HOF ballplayers, but the only egregious inclusion of the Tinker-Evers-Chance trio is Charlie Evers, who was probably only even known at all because of the poem.

Frank Chance was the unquestioned leader of the great Cubs teams of the era that included 4 WS appearances in 5 years between '06 and '10, had a near .300 career average (.296) and also stole 401 bases.


Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Should double-checked - Johnny Evers

3 and out


Nancy 1:19 PM  

@kitshef -- I was going to correct you and say that Eddie Stanky played for my beloved NY Giants, not for the Cubs, but I Googled it first and found out that Stanky did play for the Cubs and several other teams as well. But here's what I couldn't Google, believe it or not: I am pretty sure that Stanky and
Al Dark were on base when Bobby Thomson hit his famous "shot heard 'round the world." Unless it was Whitey Lockman and Dark. Or it could have also been Stanky and Lockman. I was watching the end of that game in real time, as it unfolded, but it was so long ago, I can't remember. There are, like, 20 articles about that game and that homer, including Wikipedia, and none of them say who was on base. Can you help, @OISK?

Teedmn 1:24 PM  

The only baseball game I saw from beginning to end this year was the WS Game 7 so I definitely picked the best one. Normally, since the MN Twins are in Cleveland's division, I would have been rooting for the Indians but this year, couldn't help but cheer for the historical win.

I agree with @Airymom on the Linda McCartney complaint - when I saw "former", I tried to remember the name of Paul's ex, then decided they had to be referring to his "first" wife, which would have worked so much better.

Like @LMS and others, I enjoyed the bonus baseball tie-ins, with my favorite being 2Ds "whiffed". ODOR surprised me there because I was totally thinking baseball. Nice.

Chronic dnfer 1:26 PM  

Surprised by the medium rating. I thought it east. Til I came here and realized I dnf'd at carry/grol. But finished it as quickly as I could write the words in. It seems like the World Series was a month ago. They should have done this a week or two ago.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Mark McGwire.

Lewis 1:44 PM  

Plural of STUBBLE being OPERA -- That cracked me up!

Big Steve46 1:47 PM  

On base for the Bobby Thomson home run were Whitey Lockman and Clint Hartung (who had been inserted as a pinch runner after Mueller hurt his ankle sliding into third base on the previous play.)

My memory is good - but not that good! Answer comes from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shot_Heard_%27Round_the_World_(baseball)

Larry Gilstrap 2:06 PM  

Apparently, some folks have higher expectations for a Tuesday than yours truly. I enjoyed the themers and the random references to the victors of this recent excellent playoff season. Don't belittle the influence of what was once called Our National Pastime upon American culture, tradition, and language. I once heard someone say that if your grandmother grew up in this country, she knew how to play the game. I believe it was true in my case. Future archaeologists will discover evidence of baseball diamonds, I predict.

What could be more evocative of the Cubs than IVY COVERED WALLS, ERNIE BANKS, and the long-held resistance to NIGHT GAMES? I agree with OFL that NLER is bad, but does anybody say NATIONAL LEAGUER? SOSA hit DCIX home runs? Bonds is the all-time leader with DCCLXII, followed by Aaron with DCCLV. Mind if I practice using Roman numerals? I always get 50 and 500 mixed up and you never know when that might come in handy.

The Steroid Era was an unfortunate blemish on the integrity of the game, but some how I don't feel the indignation that others express. Time will tell.

In the early days of cable, WGN was vying to make the Cubs America's Team and, for me, watching a game that wasn't local was a novelty. Near the end of an epic extra inning day game as the ambient light began to fail at Wrigley, the camera showed a large celestial orb near the horizon. In his excitement, Harry CARAY mistook the setting sun, for a rising moon. He was one of a kind.

Ω 2:15 PM  

@LMS - Uncle

@JC66 - T-Shirt and Bumper sticker material.

Nancy 2:27 PM  

Thanks, @Big Steve. I remember Don Mueller's name, but certainly not that he had been the original base runner. As for Clint Hartung -- now there's a name out of my really fuzziest-ever memories. I couldn't find any of this online, but I'm glad that you did.

Anoa Bob 2:38 PM  

"Baseball is a lot like the ivy-covered wall of Wrigley Field---it gives off a great appearance, but when you run into it, you discover the bricks underneath." Hank Aaron

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, the highlight of a visit with relatives in Chicago was going to a game at Wrigley Field. For a country boy from Tennessee who played baseball on what amounted to open fields that usually had gullies running through them from the latest rains, seeing that perfectly flat, perfectly manicured ball park was akin to a religious experience. I remember that the entire field was surrounded by a single, continuous brick WALL, and the outfield portion had the iconic covering of ivy.

So I was thrilled that the Cubs pulled it off this year. What jumped out at me in this puzzle, though, was not so much the POC STUBBLES that others have spoken of, but the POC IVY COVERED WALLS. As Hammerin' Hank says in the quote, that's just a WALL. But without the convenient S, it would be one letter short of its grid-spanning slot. Oh yeah, NIGHT GAME would be one letter short of its slot also.

Hank's quote was about racism and bigotry he experienced during his career. Here's the full quote.

AnonyMercyMe 2:41 PM  

@Z-10:16, you closet Gerundians have each other's email addresses, right? So you can continue to grammatickle each other in private. Apparently it has occurred to you that others mayn't be quite as interested, yet you insist on pirouetting in full view, so you must want the audience. For mwah, seeing you pirouetting is tutu much.

Strunk White 3:10 PM  

Beating a dead horse is not an uncommon activity in many venues.

RooMonster 3:20 PM  

@Larry Gilstrap 2:06
I also would get 50 and 500 in Roman Numerals mixed up. The way I remember it now is because of Super Bowls (uh-oh, @Anoa Bob, a POC!:-D ). L is Fifty. D is 500. This past Super Bowl wasn't a Roman Numeral because the NFL didn't want it to look bad, ala Super Bowl L. Like Loser. Next year (this Season) will be Super Bowl LI.


kitshef 4:32 PM  

Frank Chance also had an interesting managerial career. Sixth all time in winning percentage, just ahead of John McGraw and three spots ahead of Earl Weaver. And of course, he was the manager of the 1908 squad that was the last Cubs team to win the World Series. (oh ... wait ...)

xyz 5:14 PM  


oops, caps on, sorry

jae 6:15 PM  

Easy and what @Rex said.

Anonymous 6:47 PM  

Without my sports-info-endowed husband, I would have had a hard time with this one! I, too had a problem with the Linda McCartney clue (should have been "late" ). Congrats to the Cubs from a Yankees fan!

JTHurst 6:49 PM  

I thought it was a fun puzzle and I enjoyed it, but I do not know what the constructor's queue is like at the NYT's and it seemed that taking two weeks, after an event, to put out a tribute puzzle is a long time. I suppose we will see a presidential election puzzle in December.

@Chefbea - You too on Harry Caray!! I remember HC at the Cards, announcing the games, but alas he was fired. The rumor was he liked his Busch too much but not the beer. The sad thing was he went to their major competitor. My favorite HC story was while announcing a Cards game he pointed out two fans. He said, "There is a lovely young couple here at the park enjoying the game. They are so cute. He is kissing her on the strikes and she is kissing him on the .....s".

@NCA Pres - When I applied to work at a major bank, the man hiring me stated, "You are enthusiastic and motivated and I hope that when this job becomes tedious and humdrum you will not have lost that enthusiasm and motivation such that when an opportunity presents itself to change our systems for the better you will be ready to apply those traits."

Don't become so trapped into daily living that you forget to live daily.

@ED, Beagle Lover, etal - Steroid use is illegal in baseball and is cheating and I am not an apologist on its usage but I am sorry that you make it appear that anybody using steroids could hit 609 home runs. Without the use of steroids maybe Sammy Sosa would have only hit 509 home runs. Nobody knows the full impact of steroid usage on performance. Hitting a spherical object approaching you at a high velocity with a changing path using a round stick of 42 inches in length requires more hand to eye coordination than strength. Barry Bonds had more intentional and unintentional walks than any other player in major league history. I don't believe steroids assisted him in those at-bats. And to call steroid using baseball players as unsavory is an unfair, wide-sweeping generalization.

chefbea 7:43 PM  

@JYHurst...LOL good St. Louis joke

Ω 8:36 PM  

@JT Hurst - From 1920 to 1990 there were 14 instances of a player hitting more than 50 home runs in a season. From 1996 to 2007 there were 17 players who hit 50 or more in a season, including 6 instances of more than 60 home runs between 1998 and 2001. In other words we went from waiting an average of five years for 50 home run seasons to an average of 1.5 per year (in case you're wondering, in the decade since the "steroid era" there have been two 50 home run seasons, or one every five years on average).

Do we know the full extent of the impact of steroid use? No. Are all those records from 1996 to 2007 forever asterisked in the minds of fans? Yes. I blame MLB, too (home runs put fans in the seats), but I'm glad that era is mostly over.

Also - Good Harry Caray joke.

David P 11:29 PM  

As an Australian with no interest in baseball, if there was a day of the week between Saturday and Sunday, this puzzle would be it. Snowball's chance in heck of finishing it!

george 12:00 AM  

You've got your Chip mixed up with your Skip...

Anonymous 11:07 AM  


Octoberprairie 3:24 PM  

You gotta remember, for decades upon decades, the only thing us Cubs fans had to enjoy was the past! I take your point about cramming the puzzle, but the tradition and legends are very strong in Chicagoland and we're comfortable with this.
Now we have a whole new bunch of stories to go over and over and over. ;-)

Burma Shave 9:45 AM  


Those WORLDSERIES NIGHTGAMES were some for the AGES,
the Chi-TOWN NATIONALLEAGUERs with STYLE earned their wages.
The IVYCOVEREDWALLS were the EDGE, LET’s REGALE and give thanks,
but DIDI say this ERA was too late for SOSA, CARAY, and ERNIEBANKS?


spacecraft 11:14 AM  

"When the Dirty Dozen refused to shave with cold water, they all grew STUBBLES." What's the big deal?

I'm a Phillies fan myself, so am not very far behind Cub fans in the frustration index, but I can appreciate. I'm happy for them. And at last, Steve Bartman can leave his house without armed guard. This is a densely packed tribute puzzle, super-easy and without a lot of dreck. OK, the 5-digit RRN is a horror, but I don't know what else one can do with that forced v-ending.

How about that: the day after I posted a PRO/ANTI count, we get another PRO. You GO, PRO! DOD candidates abound--including Certified Cutie LIV Ullmann--but mine is mine alone: my much better half of 44 years LINDA. I sing the body ELECTRIC. But for 30-across an eagle; a tap-in birdie.

leftcoastTAM 1:52 PM  

The Cubs' World Series championship win, so ELECTRIC at the time, has SHONE a little less brightly since then out here in left coast syndiland, and wherever news AGES fast. That would be in most places these days.

Interesting pairing of ERNIE BANKS and Sammy SOSA, the former a shining star, the latter under a steroid cloud.

But Harry CARAY brightened both day and NIGHTGAMES as he REGALEd the crowd with his exuberant lead in singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

Seems like long ago, with all that has intervened since quite beyond Wrigley's IVYCOVEREDWALLS.

Diana,LIW 1:57 PM  

Not a huge baseball fan, but I did go to school in Chicago so I have many friends who were cheering 5 weeks ago. Probably still are. So I'm glad too.

Have eaten at the Billy Goat - they really do the cheesbugga routine. Classic dive.

Had a dnf at TIGa/aRNIEBANKS. Oh well. At least I'm not moving like a whirlpool. Almost had another Natick at LARA/SANA.

STUBBLES was odd, but it's crosswords, I guess.

Learned about EL AL's first flight - FROM Geneva. Huh!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 3:16 PM  

Does the WORLDSERIESRING a bell? I guess I remember that the Cubbies won. Seems like AGES ago. So why wouldn’t there be a tribute puz?

@spacey – hats off to you for 44 years with your DOD LINDA. That’s a pretty good run.
I have Whitman’s Leaves of Grass somewhere at home and my college literature class was Sci-fi/Fantasy, so I read Bradbury’s story (and have seen the Twilight Zone episode), and am a Lana Del Rey fan so I’ve heard her sing it. So many possible references these days to “I sing the body ELECTRIC”, but I think I get your IDEA.

Baseball related about a NATIONALLEAGUER: I was sitting 8 rows behind the S.F. bench in Petco the night Barry Bonds hit DCCLV to tie Aaron. Thousands of Padre fans held up the asterisk placards that had been provided. Better than my KennyG story from yesterday. ITRY.

SPINAL not clued ____ Tap?
And GOPRO not product placement? Nor TIDE? Maybe the constructors could collect a little ad revenue to help out.

As a kid my Buster Brown shoes started out as Sunday shoes, then school shoes, before you grew out of them. TIGE was always in the picture. Do they still make them?

I’d like to join the MEDIA and report some NIGHTGAMES with LARA Logan. Yeah baby.

Nice puz and good for the Cubs. Maybe now we’re done with the Curse of the GOAT.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

Wow. Two very enjoyable Tuesday puzzles in a row - keep 'em coming!

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