Place in 1969 western / SUN 6-3-18 / Where techno music originated / Minella monkey muppet / Father of Phobos god of fear / Opera set in 1800 Rome / 1904 Jack London novel

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Medium (I think—untimed)

THEME: "Proving Them Wrong" — five circled squares around the grid end up containing the letter "I"; that "I" also happens to be at the intersection of different baseball teams' name parts, leading to the revealer (which is "proven wrong" by the theme): THERE'S NO "I" IN "TEAM" (63A: Sports axiom refuted by this puzzle)

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Where techno music originated (DETROIT) / 9D: Aggressive types (TIGERS)
  • 25A: Where the Sun shines? (BALTIMORE) / 15D: Relatives of bobolinks (ORIOLES)
  • 49A: Final, countrywide competition (NATIONALS) / 27D: County name in 30 states (WASHINGTON)
  • 78A: Papal enclave members (CARDINALS) / 53D: First U.S. city to host the Olympics (ST. LOUIS)
  • 112A: Where General Mills is headquartered (MINNESOTA) / 101D: Delivery that's usually expected (TWINS) 
Word of the Day: ETTA Place (73A: Place in a 1969 western) —
Etta Place (c.1878 – ?) was a companion of the American outlaws Butch Cassidy (real name Robert LeRoy Parker) and the Sundance Kid (Harry Alonzo Longabaugh), both members of the outlaw gang known as the Wild Bunch. Principally the companion of Longabaugh, little is known about her; both her origin and her fate remain shrouded in mystery.
The Pinkerton Detective Agency described her in 1906 as having, "classic good looks, 27 or 28 years old, 5'4" to 5'5" [163–165 cm] in height, weighing between 110 and 115 lb [50 and 52 kg], with a medium build and brown hair." (wikipedia)
• • •

It was tough to solve this thing after a beautiful day of solving really entertaining tournament puzzles at the Indie 500 Crossword Tournament. At dinner last night a veteran constructor friend of mine—and a far, far nicer human being than I or most people I know could ever hope to be—went off, unprompted, on the diminishing quality of the Sunday NYT crossword, which he no longer bothers with. An editor I'd talked to earlier in the day casually used the phrase, "Back when I was still doing the Times ..." It's slightly weird to see the NYT's crossword app booming and yet routinely hear from solvers and puzzle-makers alike that Sundays just aren't fun any more (in the main). And yet it's the marquee puzzle, the biggie, the one with a title, the one that (if traffic to my site is any indication) has the greatest solvership by numbers. The brand inertia that is carrying that puzzle through the ages is really something.

But anyway, this puzzle. I love baseball so much. I wore one of my hometown AA affiliate's t-shirts to the tournament yesterday and I'm wearing another one today *and* (if the weather holds up, which right now, as I look out the window at the dark blusteriness of an impending thunderstorm, seems increasingly unlikely), I'm going to the Yankees-Orioles game later today at Camden Yards. Oh, and I'm a DETROIT / TIGERS fan, so ... I really, really should be the ideal audience for this puzzle. And yet. And yet I don't get it. I mean, I do, but I don't. What's particularly baseball-y about that slogan? Why baseball teams? Why is there not more non-incidental baseball content? Further, is the premised of the puzzle really that there is, in fact, an "I" in certain team names? Even as jokey wordplay, this is pretty weak. And the totally uneven placement of the theme content is really bizarre. The "I"s are all over the place. The entire E/SE portion of the grid is devoid of theme content. Puzzle wants me to think HOMESTANDS is relevant baseball content, but I'm not buying it. There's nothing to symmetrically complement the DETROIT / TIGERS in the south. MAJORS is totally forced into the grid at this weird, almost-but-not-central place (84A: Group with five members in this puzzle, with "the"). Maybe in the paper / magazine version of this puzzle, there is more evident baseball content. Are the circled squares actually baseballs? Who are these "Them" that you're provin' wrong, these mythical people who militantly insist that "I" does not exist in any team name?
["At the Copa ..."]
Hey, did you know the TIGERS' AA affiliate is in ERIE, PA? And that someone who plays for that team is a SEAWOLF? It's all true. PS ERIEPA is one of my least favorite pieces of fill of all time ever, and who abbrs. "Ohio" as just "O."???

[at least the morning blogging meeting was fun]

  • 71D: German hunting dog (WEIMARANER) — Adventures in misseplling! See also Charlotte AMELIE (98D: Charlotte ___ (Caribbean capital)) (AMALIE)
  • 16D: Only African-American to win an Oscar, Tony and Emmy (VIOLA DAVIS) — Me, a brilliant person: "OSSIE DAVIS!"
  • 102A: ___ Minella (Muppet monkey) (SAL) — Why ... would you name a muppet monkey ... after a disease that can kill you ... that's mostly associated with uncooked chicken. The chicken muppet should be called SAL Minella. I have spoken.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Lena tried to solve this but like many folks I know, she doesn't usually finish them, often pushing them away at the moment they become no longer interesting to her. Here's what her grid looked like when she finally pushed *this* one away:

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Diamond Lover 9:04 AM  

Liked TUBA & VIOLA, ARARAT & ERRATA, KEN & KEEN. Learned something- PUPU platter. Loved baseball theme, simple but satisfying. Good to see a star wars clue. Star Trek too, 60A. Del Shannon was awesome. Is a NOCONTEST baseball game a rout or a romp?

Lola 9:08 AM  

You missed the point. No I in team has nothing to do with the alphabet-- it means play for the group not yourself.

Mark 9:08 AM  

I agree, a really boring puzzle withe a weak theme. But I think the Sunday puzzles in the Times aren't aimed at crossword puzzle aficionados, and maybe even the Times is correct in their market instinct. But it's a shame for those of us who solve a puzzle everyday..

SweetCaroline 9:12 AM  

What’s not to like? It was fun

Lewis 9:13 AM  

To continue on refuting this axiom, may I suggest, "There is no "i" in Trump".

Angelo Dundee 9:13 AM  

Have to respectfully disagree with The Greatest. I think it’s still bragging if you can back it up. Liked this puzzle though. Thanks David.

Nancy 9:16 AM  

Here's how it's said, more often than not: "Who are the Yankees playing tonight?" "They're playing BALTIMORE." Or: "They're playing the ORIOLES." Almost never: "They're playing the BALTIMORE ORIOLES." So may I be forgiven for not seeing the two criss-crossing elements of the team names until almost the very end of my solve? This was my loss, since the puzzle is far cleverer and more intricately constructed than was initially apparent to me. And with much denser theme answer fill.

Still, despite the constructor's feat, the puzzle didn't bring me much in the way of solving pleasure. It was just too easy and highly solvable without even knowing the theme. There were some nice clues -- VAN (16A); DRAWL (92A) and especially TIN EAR (97A) -- but too many clues were flat and on-the-nose. I admire this puzzle, but I didn't much enjoy it.

Wm. C. 9:17 AM  

Once again, repeated fill in the crossword and in the puzzle on the previous page.

Z 9:26 AM  

I did this last night. Had pretty much the same reaction as Rex. THERE’S NO I IN TEAM and other sportspeak always reminds me of the scene in Bull Durham where Crash teaches the phenom pitcher his clichés. I heard a classic one during the DETROIT TIGERS’ broadcast yesterday, Nick Castellanos was quoted as saying everyone is Playing for the D on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back of the jersey. I love the guy, but Puh Leeze. Baseball is fun because it can be so randomly weird. A goose flies into an auxiliary scoreboard (the goose is fine), the TIGERS then score five runs, the goose becomes the “rally goose,” and the TIGERS haven’t lost since.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

NOLO is just abbreviated Latin for NO CONTEST. I am outraged that no one is outraged!

kitshef 9:31 AM  

A nice finish to a great week of puzzles. Theme is pretty nifty, and some nice clues, as for VAN, TIN EAR, I DOS. I do agree with @Rex that the Sunday puzzle, which used to be an hours-long challenge, has devolved into an oversize Tuesday.

I associate “it ain’t bragging if you can back it up’ with Dizzy Dean, which would have tied in with baseball and ST LOUIS CARDINALS.

Anybody else put an umlaut over Spin̈al in their grid?

Teedmn 9:33 AM  

ERoS and a misinterpretation of what 96D's "Admits" could mean LEADS to two errors today. I didn't actually enter eRoS at 90A but guessed that was what it would be when I wrote in WEIMeRANER. Later, when SETTEES went in, I never noticed I now had a god, eRES.

But I hate to Admits that I only thought of Admits as confessing to something and not letting someone in ("Admit One" on the ticket, sheesh. Have any tickets ever had "Admit Two" on them?) So 96D was LETS oN and I really didn't like RAN oNTO for "Encountered" at 118A but not admitting another USAGE to "Admits" existed meant settling for RAN oNTO. Hmph.

I mixed up "THE SEA WOLF" with "The Cry of the Wolf" by Melvin Burgess so 74D was "cry of A WOLF" for a while, holding up all sorts of things in the SE. ETTA in a 1969 Western with the play on the last name Place, I totally missed that. Where's ETTA James when you NEED An ETTA?

Otherwise, this was a fine Sunday puzzle with the MLB teams and their places crossing at the I's being a very nice touch. Not a ton of fun cluing but I found the following entertaining: Not eating PAINT chips, DRAWL being a Sound of the South, VAN being a mover but we hope not a shaker, "heavy winds" = TUBAS, BALTIMORE as "Where the Sun shines", "Call it a day...or a career" = RETIRE, TIN EAR = "Liability of note?"; these were all clever.

Thanks, David Kahn, for a nice Sunday puzzle.

Unknown 9:39 AM  

I would like to try other crossword puzzles. Are there any others with apps like the NYT? I kinda like doing it on my phone.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

At least we can always count on you to complain- that’s constant.

Nancy 9:43 AM  

Wonderful post, @Z (9:26)! That quote from NC would have fit perfectly into the "Bull Durham" cliche scene -- one of my all-time fave comedy scenes in any movie ever. And your "rally goose" anecdote is hilarious; I hadn't already read about it because I don't follow baseball anymore. If baseball is that amusing, maybe I should start watching again.

AMP 9:44 AM  

If they are not solving NYT, what puzzles are folks doing to get back the feel of the old, fun days of the NYT puzzle?

'merican in Paris 9:46 AM  

Mrs. ‘mericans (whose given name can be found in the puzzle) is in Toronto this weekend, visiting son (who’s also up there for the weekend from NYC), so I completed this crossword by myself.

I know that it should have been easy, especially for baseball aficionados, but it took me almost 2 hours, and then I DNF (had “FoR” instead of “FER”). The circled “i”s helped a lot, but it was only until I got to DETROIT, and asked myself, “Hey, what gives? All the other across theme answers are names of TEAMs!” and then saw the city names, and filled in TIGERS crossing that same “I”. I wasn’t COWed, but wOWed, and I think I even uttered that word.

Really nice to see some other baseball terms sneak in, too, such as HOME STANDS (ugh!), LETS IN, MAJORS, MET(s), NAB, TEAM O (crossing ORIOLES), RAN INTO, and RETIRE.

Speaking of which, as of Friday, I have just six months more to go before I RETIRE. Yay! (Do I feel OLD? Not yet!)

I suppose one excuse for my long solving time was my many write-overs:

galeS > TUBAS
bison > LLAMA
beer on > SPINAL
NOt guilty > NO CONTEST
saint paul > MINNESOTA

One cavil: The clue for 46A says “Boat that landed on 94-Down” and the answer to 94D is ARRARAT. First of all, while there is geological evidence of a flood occurring in the Black Sea because of the because of debris, can the story of the Noah’s ARK be considered anything more than a myth? If not, then shouldn’t that clue have been worded something like “Legendary boat that is said to have landed on 94-Down”?


P.S. to @chefwen: I hope you got to enjoy a nice PUPU platter today!

Ellen S 9:52 AM  

@anonymous 9:27 — I’m outraged by the NOLO NOCONTEST crossing, same clue, same answer. The rest of us are probably just waiting for the moderator to release our fury.

I finished this out of a sense of duty, but after the second circle was filled with an “I” I filled the rest of them in, making the puzzle much easier, and then saw the revealer and understood that the team names crossing at the I’s wasn’t a coincidence, big chunks of the remaining puzzle filled themselves. Phooey on that.

Confession: I think I could have made the same complaint about my favorite Sunday NYT puzzle of all time, one which contained the names of all the Triple Crown winners up to that time (which would have been in the 80s). I don’t know if the rest of the fill was better. Maybe the team names crossing gives away more answers, or leaves less room for clever fill in the interstices than the race horses all going across.

pmdm 9:58 AM  

I have read that only 5% of the population likes Western Classical Music. Likewise Jazz. So let's get one thing very straight: how many and who like the NY Times Crossword Puzzles has no bearing on how good the puzzles are. According to my example, more more people like something, the less good it is, which is apparently what has happened with the Times puzzles. Good for business, bad for quality. When all is said and done, it's the bottom line that determines what gets printed.

OK, I don't totally buy into that train of thought. But I do think there's a lot of truth in it. That's why all the complaints posted here will never make a difference, because most of them seem (to me) to be suggesting something that in the end will satisfy those making the suggestions but hurt the bottom line. And without the bottom line being what it is, the powers that be at the Times may relegate the crossword to the same cemetery they relegated the chess column (and numerous other features) to. Is it sad? Yes. Should it make one angry? Yes. Should one ever think things will get better? No. So why not emphasize the positive rather than being a nattering nabob of negativism? Because letting off steam is good for you (to a point).

I reacted very positively to today's theme, in contrast to some others. Who's right? There is no right or wrong. If enough solvers enjoyed today's puzzle, Mr. Shortz made the correct decision in publishing it, even if it angers the more experienced solvers. I very much admired the way the theme entries were inserted into the grid. All about the skill needed to have all those theme entries all over the place without having crud all around them. Mr. Kahm well deserves accolades, not complaints, in my book.

I don't like including overtly political statements in my comments. But I have to respond to Lewis. It's not that there's no I in Trump, it's that there's no IQ in trump. At all. Unfortunately, that might be taken as an insult hurled at those who support him. To those who would support him regardless of whether he breaks laws and the Constitution, I guess it is. Sorry. I don't mean to emulate Ms. Barr.

Diamond Lover: I would guess in that context ROMP and ROUT are synonyms.

Mr. Dundee: You are correct. Absolutely, methinks.

Nancy: Some cities have more than one team in the city. With interleague play, you would never say something like "The Yankees are playing Chicago" since you could be referring to two different teams. Perhaps your argument is a tad too provicial (I say gently).

Luckily I am posting early today or I would be responding to other comments ad infinitum.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Are we just not talking about how a tuba is a brass instrument, and not a wind instrument?

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Try the Washington Post. 3 on Sunday for free,I print them but you can use your phone too

pmdm 10:06 AM  

Z's comment only posted as I was entering my first comment. Hockey players, especially during the playoffs, use a cliché I find hilarious, for whatever reason. When asked how the team felt during the game, they will so often reply with something like "We were just having fun" especially if they won the game. Really? As they were getting checked into the boards and taking opponents' sticks in their backs? Am I missing something here?

[To be certain, Vegas seemed not to be having fun last night. Wake up before it's too late!

Seastate7 10:12 AM  

So. It seems, as per Rex's comments, that the NYT puzzles, especially the Sunday, are no longer of interest to semi-professional crossword solvers. At the same time, participation, as measured in numbers of people who subscribe to do the puzzles electronically, is at an all-time high. Could the two be related?
Perhaps this is a phenomenon of the current times of dumbing things down so that more people can participate. Or, perhaps only $$$ is involved in the algorithm. If the puzzles were more challenging, then many people (dare I include myself?) would not or could not solve the puzzles. Perhaps akin to a trophy to all who participate. Tough to have it both ways.

Mo Pariser 10:22 AM  

Here's an idea! Let's take the two most obscure proper nouns in the puzzle today and cross em up! Hmmm... ASWAN aaaand... AMALIE! Yep that'll do. And FER good measure why don't we swap out 1 Across's wOW for an almost identical COW (Overawed), because there's nothing like starting off your day with the incorrect consenant.

DNF and bitter. Can you tell?

Although I did enjoy speeding through most of the fill once I figured out the theme. Filling in the cities/teams was really more like color-by-number at that point.

Why were the themers skewed to the left? Only one circle positioned in east. The asymmetry bugged me.

Are DEED and Achievement synonymous? I'm honestly asking. Very loosely I think. I originally had FEAT and refused to edit until _IOLA tAVIS came waltzing down.

Liked seeing TEAMO on the field today. Woohoo, go me!

Harryp 10:22 AM  

I was reading a funny story a former University of Hawaii athlete told about himself. When he was in High School he attempted to join a team, and after the coach had a good look at his play he called him aside and said, son there is no U in my team. Later on at UH he qualified for the team whose coach was there too. The upshot was that he, the coach and the UH team were very successful. Maybe another local blog respondent can back me up on the fact that this is a true story.

Nora Bensahel 10:24 AM  

I really wanted the answer to 33A, Sunday delivery? to be NYT instead of SER!

Barry Frain 10:29 AM  

I finally figured it out: Rex is the Jordan Petersen of Xword World.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

chefbea 10:39 AM  

What a great puzzle!!! Go Cards!!!

Suzie Q 10:40 AM  

Baseball bores me to tears so I just pretended it was a geography puzzle.
There were some fav clues like the one for drawl.
Rex missed an opportunity to insert some Wegman Weimaraner photos.
That would have been fun.
Totally agree about the ark/Ararat myth.
Cow, to me, means something like intimidate. Wow is more fitting.
Atwood, Patchett, Stanton, Davis, Ryder, and Stowe. I thought Rex would be over the moon with all these Dames in the grid. I guess it's only of note when they're not there. Or maybe he was just distracted by his favorite sport.
But, yes, a Muppet named after a germ??

RooMonster 10:43 AM  

Hey All !
Play Ball!
Fun City/Team cross puz. Like others, once I ended up with I's in two of the circles, wrote in the rest of the I's. But that's OK. A little help never hurts. Was kinda disappointed there wasn't a themer in SE.

Had TIthes for TINEAR, giving me some funny Downs. HOME STATus, THE She WOLF, eMALIE, saNDER, and making my Lady's title be ueMa, because doesn't everyone call a Lady that? :-) Also had iNaSECOND for 117A, wOW for COW, so a multi-tiered DNF. I blame my printer, it seems to be stuck on printing out the puz smaller than the whole page. I've tried changing settings, going back to original, but nothings working. It was almost like solving on a phone, it's so small. Any suggestions as to what to try? Thanks!

So a not UNCOOL puz. It was a HOOT. Even though that ERIE PA clue should have been Cleveland, Oh. Right? And STEREO clue way odd.

Had a PUPU platter while wearing a MUMU and TUTU listening to a LULU on my HULU.

BORG - Resistance is NO CONTEST.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

I don't understand the *nolo*/"no contest" complaints. I think a "nolo" in legal terms short for the phrase *nolo contendere*, "I do not wish to contend." I think the term appears sometimes with the Latin infinitive, noli contendere, to prefer not to contend. I am in Florence and don't have my Latin dictionary with me, but the Latin verb nolere I think must derive from a truncated non volere, to wish not. So if the *not*, the Latin *non* duplicates the *no* of "no contest", I suppose one could complain. But there are more egregious duplications in puzzles very often, and complaints are rare. I find this perfectly all right.

I associate the sort of rah-rah sloganeering of "there is no I in team" more with football than with baseball. But the sentiment, as others have pointed out, is always expressed in after-game interviews, even when egregiously unwarranted.
At my university, Indiana University, when confronted by the utter barbarism of our administration, when they came up with the most banal expressions of "university purpose" (here the "left" is more guilty than the right, even if the right offers nothing of substance), I proposed a contest to come up with the appropriate slogan for the university. My proposals were two: (1) "There is no I in Indiana University" and (2) "Excellence comes before Dedication only in the dictionary."

Anon. i.e. Poggius
Florence, Italy

JOHN X-15 10:44 AM  

There's no "I" in "team." There's no "U" either. You're cut.

This was a great Sunday puzzle, I thought, and I've done about several thousand NYT puzzles over 30+ years. Maybe Rex can one day give some examples of "good" NYT puzzles so we can compare and see the quality decline. My opinion is that Rex and his close-minded ilk just don't like words that don't validate their narrow opinions (or anything related to science, engineering, and American history pre-1975).

ERIEPA is a great answer and anyone who doesn't like it is a racist.

The actors Davis: OSSIE, BETTE, GEENA, and now VIOLA.

I'm going to enter one of these crossword tournaments one day and I am going to sweep every category, so much that I will be probably be banned from future competition because I make every one else look bad.

Nancy 10:45 AM  

@pmdm (9:58) -- You're right that I'm wrong in not specifying which Chicago team -- but it has nothing to do with my being "provincial." It has to do with the fact that the "Interleague play" you referred to in your comment -- is way outside the scope of my experience. I did not know that such a peculiar thing existed -- other than in a World Series, of course. So I Googled it and found out to my astonishment that, beginning in 1997, major league teams in different leagues now sometimes play each other. Will wonders never cease! Imagine that!

You have to understand that I pretty much stopped watching baseball in 1957, when my beloved NY Giants were carted off to SF so that owner Horace Stoneham could make more money. There is nothing more disillusioned than a disillusioned child, and I lost my love of baseball on the spot. I tried years later to transfer my affection to the Miracle Mets of 1969, and did watch them bumble around for a few years. But it didn't really "take", I fear. So the Interleague Play thing was promulgated 40 years after I stopped watching baseball. Sorry I didn't know about it, but I didn't.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

"Rex" your objection to SAL MINELLA is overblown, especially as you, a self-proclaimed comics expert should know that a diner named "Sam and Ella's" appeared in the "Little Orphan Annie" strip---it's a joke, son!

Good ol' Joe 11:08 AM  

Tubas are not woodwind instruments but both brass and woodwind instruments are in the family of wind instruments - things that produce sound by pushing air through a resonator of some kind (reed or mouthpiece). I knew that music degree would come in handy some day.

GILL I. 11:23 AM  

I know that no one cares what I eat for breakfast but I'm going to tell you anyway. If we aren't brunching it on Sunday, then I'll poach up some eggs and fry some bacon. Well, the eggs were done and the bacon all crispy like and I'll be damn if I didn't finish the puzzle before my eggs could dry on my chin. I figured out that fascinating I thing right away. Go put the I's in the little circles, get one little letter and there you have it. Baseball..... which, like @Susie Q, I can't stand.
The only long answer I liked was WEIMARANER. Stubborn dogs but incredibly intelligent. My grandad always had them around. My two favorites were named Mali and Bu. Yes, they lived in Malibu.
I'm going to agree with @Lena today. I never thought I'd say that NYT Sunday puzzles have become boring for me - but, they have. I'll finish them because it gives me something to do while I'm eating. This one bored me to tears and I had nothing to play with during my meal.
I'll go check out the LAT see if there is an improvement or, better yet, I'm going outside to play.

Master Melvin 11:31 AM  

Long before Ali, Dizzy Dean was reported to have said, "If ya kin do it, it ain't braggin'."

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

The earlier comments on how baseball players are expected to conduct interviews, replicated always now, was parodied in the movie *Bull Durham*, as earlier readers pointed out. It's funny how much of that movie, along with movies such as *Fried Green Tomatoes* and *Animal House*, is a rehashing of urban legends. For me those movies were very old jokes retold--fun to see acted out, but not really "innovative." One chuckles at old jokes retold--but one likes, I think, to be surprised, and in those movies there were few if any.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Warren Piece 11:35 AM  

The puzzle was fine. The cluing sucked. One example: I don't want to have to think that hard for the word Tuba on a Sunday. I'm sure there are expert solvers who plunked that right in, but things like that make a big puzzle a slog.

Fun to think hard about the clever clues and original fill. Tuba et al, not so much

Wanderlust 11:38 AM  

I liked this one in part because of clever cluing of the main ten theme answers. I am from St. Louis (go Cards) so I knew it was the first US city to host the Olympics. But the factoids about the others were mostly either interesting (Detroit) or clever (Baltimore). And all of the team names were clued as something different than what the team name represents (i.e., bishops rather than birds for Cardinals).

TubaDon 11:39 AM  

Looking through the top row downs, I spotted ERRATA and ROADIE and I was off to the races. Proceeded contiguously clockwise without much difficulty and the final letter was the C in COW (I wanted WOW). Ecstatic to see my favorite wind instrument included in the puzzle. Didn't understand Rex's objection to Ohio abbreviation. Was he thinking TEAM O instead of TE AMO?

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

There is an I in Dominic Thiem.

Logan 11:52 AM  

There *is* an i in 'Lick My Love Pump'

Alan_S. 11:52 AM  

Yanks-Orioles game rained out. What are you going to do now Rex? Hope you checked before traveling to Baltimore. The weather being what it is, I was all set for a relaxing day of reading the comments then a nice baseball game to eat up the afternoon. Now I got nothin'. Any suggestions out there? Btw, the puzzle was on the easy side again and mildly enjoyable. The baseball teims sived it.

GHarris 11:52 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, the delightful theme and the satisfaction of completion. Found Rex’s rant absurd. Suspect a strain of elitism runs through this criticism pining for the days when only constructors and gifted solvers could finish. Hats off to the hoi poli.

Mohair Sam 12:01 PM  

There is no "I" in team, but there is an "M" and an "E"

puzzlehoarder 12:07 PM  

I started this last night and between being very tired and the eye strain of reading the 1/4 sized grid numbers I kept falling asleep.

This morning I started out with just the very NE corner done. With a rested mind and good light to read by I filled in the rest in 34 minutes. I'm not fast but I know my crosswordese and this puzzle was classic boilerplate.

Sundays are glorified early week puzzles. They get a little bit of late week tweaking, ETTA is clued as Place not James (and put Place first to hide the fact that it's a name), clue COW like it's WOW, tack PA onto ERIE etc. Still it's just boilerplate.

Solving is solving and it never hurts to repound this crap into your head. You never know when it will help you in a real puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous 12:12 PM  

On the one hand, I can sorta see Lena darlin's point. Once U got yer puz revealer and the Minnesota Twins filled in, the rest is an exercise left for the weimeraners. Go Twins.

On hand #2: Can see a sharkfin swimmin around in the @RP snark, also. Big-ass SunPuzs need them some serious humor, to keep everybody goin. Names of baseball teams may not get er done, for every puztaste. The theme definitely helped m&e with the fill, tho. Shoot, once U had NATIONALS, WASHINGTON was pretty much a gimme. But mainly … Go Twins.

It is real neat, that all the city/mascot names intersect at the "I", I'd grant.

Funniest thing in the puz, IM&AOH: WINETASTER WEIMERANER column. staff weeject pick: URI. Becuz U and I both oughta be represented, in the primo-est weeject for this puz. Quite nice weeject stacks in the NW and SE, btw.

Only 6 U's in this grid outing, which is bit below the SunPuz average. But … that's Baseball, I reckon.
Thanx, Mr. Kahn.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Mike 12:13 PM  


Alan_S. 12:32 PM  

Second week in a row with no comment from LMS. Always disappointed when I don't see a post from the the most consistently entertaining commenter on the page.

Bill L. 12:33 PM  

Puz was easy as a hanging curve ball served up over the middle of the plate.
Teams that didn’t make the cut:
Chicago White Sox
Philadelphia Phillies
Miami Marlins (good one for @Roo Monster’s SE corner)
Pittsburgh Pirates
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants
Sorry about the rain out @Rex. Binghamton spiedies though: good eats. Get ye to Sharkey’s!

Tim Carey 12:36 PM  

I'm with Lena, two passes (across and down), and... well who cares?

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle. In general, I do prefer more difficult puzzles but this one was fun. Whether you believe it truth or fiction, it is commonly held that the Ark landed on Mount Ararat (as opposed to Mt Everest or Mt Kilamanjaro) so there is no need to add "mythological" or some such modifier.

CDilly52 12:46 PM  

I finished but went on a rant where NOLO crosses NOCONTEST because they are the very same thing. Nolo contendere being Latin fit “I will not contest.” If clues as a pair, maybe, but here, just no.

LHS 888 12:55 PM  

I saw the theme early enough to drop I’s in the circles. Didn’t help me finish the thing. Got Naticked at ET__ / _ES / _NT. Ran the alphabet several times to see if anything might shake loose in the noggin, but no joy. Also tripped up at iNaSECOND / SAMiS / WEIMARANaR but that one’s on me because I do know how to spell WEIMARANER. D’oh!

As for the overall solve... I didn’t fly through with answers coming as soon as I saw the clues for the most part. I just kept chipping away at the thing with dogged determination until stopped dead at ET__. I did manage to see MINNESOTA from the I, so that felt good. Otherwise, mostly meh

Other write-overs:
mA’am > DAME
ashe > BORG

I liked clues for ARK / ARARAT & RETIRE. I resisted TUBAS as long as possible because a tuba is a brass instrument rather than a (wood)wind.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

@JOHN X-1510:44 AM. You left out Ann B. DAVIS. What would the Brady Bunch have been without "Alice"?

@Mo Pariser10:22 AM. I agree that COW is bad answer. To cow is to overwhelm in a menacing way, causing the subject to cower.

@pmdm9:58 AM. Don't be concerned. Trump supporters should be insulted. Free speech (at least for now)

Banana Diaquiri 1:08 PM  

if memory serves, within the trade 'wind' is short for 'woodwind', thus a tuba doesn't qualify.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

@Nancy. It is sad to lose interest in baseball. For you it was losing the Giants. For me it's been a long, piece by piece process. It began with the designated hitter-DH in the Amer. league. Other insults followed: I understand creating divisions but hate the 5 game series and having a wild card. Inter league play SUCKS. The 2 leagues don't even play the same game because of the DH. Of late, the never ending replays, reviews, and challenges have destroyed most of the fun. Now we have the no-pitch base on balls. Say what? Some telecasts impose an array of lines, boxes, and other graphics which distract and sometimes actually obscure the actual action. Technology has done harm. Meanwhile the strike zone remains subjective. WTF?

Hungry Mother 1:32 PM  

I worked on this in two sessions, as is usual for me on weekends. Session one is during my early (4:30am) breakfast of bagels with peanut butter and jam and coffee. Session two is after my running race while I’m icing my legs. Today, session one went well, almost filling the grid. Session two had me clinging to tENDER and refusing to let go even though it caused a DNF. Otherwise it was a pleasant solve with an interesting theme.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

I think Sal Minella plays third base for the Erie Seawolves.

Charles Flaster 1:36 PM  

Loved this theme and I thought there would be another themer in SE.
We did have a recent no I in team puzzle.
Love the stories about no U in team .
Loved the misdirect of DRAWL.
Only writeover was VIOLA DAVIS for Ossie DAVIS.
@Nancy: I am another crazy NY Giant fan and living in Brooklyn ( on Bedford Avenue ), had many interesting and lengthy discussions in the schoolyard about Giants , Dodgers, and Yankees. Kept my allegiance until 1973 when Willie became a Met. That year I moved to Philadelphia and have rooted for Phillies since then. Their new manager is taking a lot of heat from the press.
Be that as it may I enjoyed this puzzle and thanks to DJK.

'merican in Paris 1:52 PM  

@Anonymous 12:40 PM -- So, by your logic, we should accept clues like, "Site of 1947 UFO crash"? (Answer: ROSWELL) or "Elvis's new persona"? (Answer: BOB JOYCE)?

Even this extensive article, by a "biblical geologist" who has studied all of the claims and counter-claims regarding the ARK and ARARAT, says it is unlikely that the ARK is ever to be found there -- for one, because much of its volcanic activity has bee post-diluvian.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

Continuing Rex's "it's all true" comment about the TIGERS' ERIEPA SEAWOLF minor league affiliate, the MINNESOTA TWINS had two pitchers that were teammates in the 1980s named Frank VIOLA and Ron DAVIS.

Banana Diaquiri 2:21 PM  

for one, because much of its volcanic activity has bee post-diluvian.

well, that comes in a very distant second to the fact that nearly every religion on the planet has a flood myth.

'merican in Paris 3:09 PM  

@Banana Diaquiri at 2:21 PM -- and your point is ... ? My first point is that a widely asserted but unfounded theory that attempts to prove one aspect of a myth as hard history -- taking it outside the realm of myth -- should not be treated as a factual statement.

By contrast, a clue like, "Zeus's throne home" with an expected answer of "Mount Olympus" is still well within the bounds of that myth.

sanfranman59 3:34 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:43 4:30 1.05 60.8% Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:54 5:26 1.09 67.7% Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:50 6:39 0.88 29.1% Easy-Medium
Thu 11:28 9:51 1.16 75.2% Medium-Challenging
Fri 11:19 13:05 0.86 32.5% Easy-Medium
Sat 13:43 15:48 0.87 37.6% Easy-Medium
Sun 18:42 20:10 0.93 44.3% Medium

A sloppy DNF, but a baseball themed puzzled is almost always going to get a nod from me. I submitted without remembering to go back and figure out the consonant that went in the 1A/1D cross. I couldn't get wOW out of my head for 1A when I was working that section, but that clearly didn't work for 1D. It was ultimately a quick fix.

When I still didn't get Will's smiling face from Ralph Bunker's excellent solving app, I figured it had to be the ETnA/nES cross I doubtfully left in at the 73A/75D cross. ETnA made no sense for a 1969 western, but I thought maybe it was a spoof that I'd never heard of and since I don't know French, nES seemed reasonable. Then ETTA Place finally hit me. I don't think this is the first time I've been tricked by that clue.

Both of these snafus are an indictment of the solver, not the puzzle. I'm forever amazed at the minds of constructors who come up with themes like this.

FWIW, there are six other I IN TEAM options: Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants.

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

Hey Z
Pope Francis just named a lay lerson the (first) nead of thw Pontical Lateran University. Guess hes secular. I know he has a high IQ. Maybe he's racist.

Banana Diaquiri 3:42 PM  


the point is that before a 'myth' can be historical, it has to at least be plausible. given that the flood myth isn't even unique to Judeo-Christian tradition puts plausibility at light-years' distance, that the proposed landing site has been volcanic is utterly immaterial. the J-C tradition, after all, posits One God, its own, so there cannot be floods elsewhere, now can there?

Lewis 4:30 PM  

@bill l. -- According to the constructor's notes, he only accepted teams that had a single 'i" in the city name and team name. So there were three teams that didn't make the cut -- Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, and Arizona Diamondbacks.

sanfranman59 4:42 PM  

@Lewis ... that only rules out the Phillies, no?

king_yeti 4:44 PM  

Re weimaraner, see

‘merican in Paris 5:29 PM  

@Banana — I accept the universality of the Great Flood myth. And, yes, we’re talking here about one specific one, the J-C one. But, unlike many other myths, that of Noah’s ARK has been propounded as based on an actual boat, thus mixing myth with a yearned-for reality — an idea that has launched many expeditions and (as yet) zero credible archeological evidence.

Note that the Bible (Genesis VIII.4) doesn’t say the ARK rested on Mt. ARARAT specifically, but “upon the mountains of ARARAT”, which covers a wide range. See

To quote that article, “During the Middle Ages, this tradition [naming the resting place of the ARK as Mt. ARARAT specifically] eclipsed the earlier association with Mount Judi in Eastern Christianity (Syrian Christianity), and the Mount Judi tradition is now mostly confined to the Islamic view of Noah.” So, from early days there have been different ideas on this. The Wikipedia entry on Mount Judi notes also that the “biblical Ararat is thought be a variation of Urartu, an ancient term for the region north of ancient Assyria which encompasses the Armenian plateau” — i.e., a general location.

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

Miami Marlins would not qualify either.

Z 5:54 PM  

@Anon3:34 - Huh.

@Banana Diaquiri - Fun fact, River valleys are great places to establish agriculture. As a result, early civilizations tend to be found around rivers. Another fun fact, rivers flood, occasionally enough to wipe out communities even today. Another fun fact, most early civilizations developed oral traditions before writing to pass on history. Unsurprisingly, these oral traditions include tales of great floods destroying the world. My guess is that all the myths have elements of historical truth. On the other hand, I doubt that the world was repopulated from the chopped up pieces of the incestuous child of the flood’s only survivors. Although, if you told me that was the origin of internet trolls I just might believe you.

Bill L. 6:01 PM  

@Lewis & @sanfranman59 -- Well that seems silly. I mean, either there is an I in team or there isn't. But okay, if them's the rules then we still have the White Sox, the Pirates (which I think you probably intended instead of the Phillies), the Diamondbacks and the Giants.

mmorgan 6:05 PM  

It was a puzzle. I did it (last night, but didn't have time to come here till now). It had some nice clues. I'm into baseball but the theme didn't do much for me. I was glad to learn about Sal Minella. Ha!

Joe Bleaux 6:06 PM  

Despite the clunky clues already cited, a pretty fair Sunday puzzle. I saw the game plan right off the bat, with the Tigers and Orioles up top, and the rest was anticlimactic. As Rex noted, nada in the SE, then it was all over with the Twins (still a painful subject for us Braves fans, who'll never get over the '91 "Best World Series Ever.")
Hey, @Lewis, Say whut?! No "I" in Trump? There's nothing BUT "I" in Trump😏.

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

Noooo, more baseball would not have been a good thing for my enjoyment! It was too sporty of a puzzle as-is. I wish the constructor had thrown a bone to us non-sporty types by coughing BORG with something about Star Trek, or GAS with... something else.

Anonymous 6:25 PM  

"Wind instruments" includes all instruments played by wind = moving air, i.e. all brasses and woodwinds are winds. There are brasses not made of metal at all (like cornetti), and woodwinds made of brass (like saxophones). When referring to the divisions of an orchestra, "winds" is often a short form for "woodwinds" and used to divide the brasses from the "winds", but it doesn't mean the brasses aren't wind instruments - imagine listening to a tuba recital where the player never breathed into the horn...
Accordions and concertinas and pipe organs are wind instruments where the wind is supplied but not from the player's lungs. They're still winds. Middle ground - bagpipes, where the player feeds wind into a storage unit and uses that stored wind to make the sounds. But still winds.

jberg 6:40 PM  

I thought this puzzle was neat -- true, it was easy, but a Sunday should be easy, or we'd all die of boredom. (And I say it was easy even though it was a DNF for me--- I thought the one concerned with aging was a WINEmASTER, who would want to be sure the wine aged well; but I guess a taster is trying to assess how well it aged, so that's OK. Somehow I never checked IOmA.) I don't see how you could make the theme answers be symmetrical, while still having them all cross at the I.

And to answer @Mo Pariser's question, why do the theme answers skew to the left? Because they're in the NYT!

Aside from the error mentioned above, hardest part for me was putting in Toledo -- thinking, wait, isn't that to the West?--before ERIEPA.

Banana Diaquiri 6:41 PM  

Unsurprisingly, these oral traditions include tales of great floods destroying the world.

so, I guess that means Maher, et al are right: religulous is fairy tales. be careful how far you travel the path of logic. you just might end up proving that they ain't be no God.

remember, the point isn't that there was some Flood, but that such Flood was a purposeful act of a Pissed Off God. not just a meteorological anomaly.

Anonymous 9:08 PM  

1. I am not a "believer". 2. That said, I have read that the Biblical flood was a consequence of the last ice age which caused global sea level to drop so much that there was a land bridge across the Bosporus. The water level in the Black Sea was also much lower (hundreds of meters?). As the ice melted, sea level rose until it breached the Bosporus, causing global oceans to flood into the Black Sea. This had nothing to do with rainfall. This may have taken years. To people living along the shore of the Black Sea, it seemed like the entire world was flooding. Eventually this made it into Scripture.

Anonymous 9:15 PM  

The point of the "no I in Trump" comment was that Trump is all about himself, and yet there's no I in his name. Thus the no-i-in-team thing is rather meaningless. That was the refutation of which Lewis spoke.

Anonymous 9:50 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle (and the reveal) and I'm not a fan of baseball in any way. I had a nice "Aha!" moment that helped me fill in quite a few blanks.

Regarding the difficulty of the puzzle, I do remember doing the Sunday puzzle every week with my dear old dad some 30 years ago. We'd usually spend between 2 and 4 hours doing it with the help of our encyclopedias. Now, it usually takes me about 30 minutes with no assistance internet or otherwise. I dunno if that means the puzzle is getting easier or I've gotten better. Maybe a little of both.

Anonymous 10:57 PM  

And before Dizzy Dean and Ali, there was Mr. Darcy: “Where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation.”

Rob 9:37 AM  

I found this incredibly hard. My first true DNF in a long time. Bit surprised everyone else found it easier, that lower right corner killed me. ASWAN/AMALIE was the nastiest cross, but I couldn't figure out HOMESTANDS and I don't know my Jack London at all.

CDilly52 10:57 AM  

I missed your entry in my outrage! See my comment after 12:45-ish! Couldn’t agree more!

Paul Armstrong 11:12 AM  

They were known as The Hole in the Wall Gang not the Wild Bunch

Swampgal81 12:57 PM  

I, like many of you, have been doing the Sunday New York Times Crossword puzzle for many years. Forty to fifty-plus years ago, the puzzle was a challenge. The Sunday puzzle was something I approached with deference to its creator(s), and with a measure of fearful anticipation as to whether I would be able to complete it. The Sunday puzzle frequently found my "weak spots" in terms of knowledge of music, literature, geography, history, etc. When I did not know something, it never occurred to me to rail at the puzzle's maker; instead, I endeavored to learn more of what I did not know. Rarely were puzzles tough because they required the solver to know obscure references, or crossword "fill." Furthermore, theme puzzles' clues and answers were consistent and their construction ingenious, if not masterly.
- Today, some Sunday puzzles I refer to as "fill-ins." I do not complete them because I prefer the challenge of solving a puzzle to data entry. Even 30-plus years ago, the puzzle was more challenging. Now, I check to see whether the puzzle will require more of me, - i.e., will it make me ponder, stretch intellectually, or think out of the box. If it does not, I don't do it, and move on to other things.
- I admit, I am still in awe of the skill required to design a well-crafted puzzle; a puzzle that delights from being clever, adeptly challenging, and slyly humorous. Such puzzles that are not full of unnecessary contrivances are a rare find.
- I am not saying that ALL Sunday NY Times Crossword puzzles of years past were artistic masterpieces, because many were not. Nevertheless, they were harder and required solvers to have a greater range of knowledge - but so too did our schools and educational institutions. Recently I found the test that my grandfather, as an eighth grader in 1918, had to take and pass to get into high school. I was struck by how little, relative to the knowledge required for this test, is required of average eighth-grade students today. Most of this test's content is now taught in high school, if at all.
- Perhaps the decline of the Sunday Puzzle reflects the greater reality of the overall decline of the U.S. educational system. As of 2017, eighth-grade U.S. students ranked 38 out of 71 advanced industrial countries in math, and 24th in science (which of course does not include standings in Reading, Writing, History, or Geography, all of which were included on my great grandfather's test). Just a thought.

Rbh in Lincoln 11:15 AM  

Liked this one, but kind of unhappy with 115 down, Native Oklahoman... The Oto tribe were native to northern Nebraska and evicted / brutally moved, via ‘Trail of Tears’ to Oklahoma, on foot, in terrible winter conditions. Chief Standing Bear’s son died among many, many others. Quite disappointed in the constructor for this lapse.

Rbh in Lincoln 11:17 AM  

Liked this one, but kind of unhappy with 115 down, Native Oklahoman... The Oto tribe were native to northern Nebraska and evicted / brutally moved, via ‘Trail of Tears’ to Oklahoma, on foot, in terrible winter conditions. Chief Standing Bear’s son died among many, many others. Quite disappointed in the constructor for this lapse.

Unknown 12:21 PM  

Rex, Howevermuch you tire of the N Y Times crosswords, I tire even more of your unctuous superiority that you unload on your reading public on a weekly basis, not to mention your laughable ignorance of the cliche, “there is no I in team.” Are you as insufferable when you go to parties? I know I’d avoid you like the plague,

Richard Howell

spacecraft 12:24 PM  

Hand up for a bad beginning at wOW! Almost scuttled me; it took forever to see CUTSIT. COW = overawe? Don't try to stretch a rubber band that far! Before seeing that I abandoned the NW--again--and went in search of gimmes, noticed the centrally located reveal clue, and decided to work on that line. This was a happy choice; shortly I had it all.

One other writeover: oh geez, I'm starting to think like OFL (gulp)! I too thought of Ossie instead of the correct answer. As apology for that woeful oversight, I hereby award DOD to the accomplished--and lovely--VIOLADAVIS.

Amazing how one can love baseball so much yet TRASH a puzzle so themed. As the drunk in "Groundhog Day" said, "I'm guessing you're a glass-half-empty kinda guy," Fearless One.

Easy-medium; woulda been straight easy but for that weird NW. Remarkably clean fill for a Sunday. Solid birdie. Or in relevant terms, maybe not a home run but a stand-up double.

Diana,LIW 2:19 PM  

or off yes - COW was my last entry), but once I got going and had the theme I played on. And was surprised to see I had completed the puzzle when it was done. That doesn't mean "it" was "easy," just that I (once I got going) started slow and then rolled on. And I'm not even a big baseball fan - yet, who doesn't know the teams? Even as a little pup our school groups got to go see the Phillies play at Connie Mack Stadium, back when you could afford to treat a group of kids to a professional ball game of any sort.

Wow - lots of sad commentators. Glass half full and already spoken for. Oh well, I would go now and take a Mensa test but they are way too easy these days...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for modest self assessment

Burma Shave 2:35 PM  


OLD WINONA TOOKTURNS to ACTAS a FIEND like we reckoned -


rondo 2:47 PM  

Let's hear it for the MINNESOTA TWINS and for yeah baby WINONA Ryder who is named after the city of WINONA, MINNESOTA. Did all the rest of the puz before coming back NW to get the COW. Huh.

I'll give this puz a pass just FER its baseballiness. And it's true THERE'SNO"I"INTEAM, but THERE"S an M and an E, for ME.

AnonymousPVX 4:34 PM  

Well this was a bit of a took forever to figure, and Cow 1A was the last to fall.

spacecraft 6:03 PM  

@Diana LIW: Now we're showing our age when we admit to visiting Connie Mack. $1.50 general admission. Wow, not Cow!

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

Weeks late on getting to this Sunday puzzle (old school, paper photocopy from the local library and sometimes they stack up) so just reviewing this blog post now...which means you probably won't see this comment, but if you do, LOVE the spiedie T-shirt! Being long removed from my Endwell upbringing, thank God for the Rob Salamida company bottling that little bit of home that I can buy at the market down the street.

Phillip Blackerby 3:40 PM  

How the heck does "Proffer" become RENDER? A tENDER is a proffer (e.g. a stock tender offer) but a Render is an amount actually owed, no proffered (e.g."RENDER unto Caesar...").

Phillip Blackerby 3:54 PM  

"woodwinds" does not refer to the material comprising the instrument; rather, it refers to the wooden reed which produces the vibrations. It includes clarinets, saxophones, and oboes (double reeds!).

ChrisR 9:43 AM  

For several years I worked with students responsible for the hydrology and hydraulics portion of their team's senior design project in our civil engineering program. Emphasizing the importance of working with the others in their groups, I would say, "There's no 'I' in 'stormwater management'."

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

So? There's no I in Obama, Bush, Ryan, Gore...

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