Snide question to one issuing a challenge / TUE 7-13-21 / Pseudonym of the essayist Charles Lamb / Outburst in a nursery

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Easy, mostly


THEME: baseball idioms — that's all:

Theme answers:
  • COVER ALL THE BASES (18A: Address every aspect of something)
  • RIGHT OFF THE BAT (28A: Immediately)
  • OUT OF LEFT FIELD (44A: Oddly and unexpectedly)
  • WHOLE NEW BALLGAME (57A: Situation that starts things completely over)
Word of the Day: "Take the A-TRAIN" (32D: Transportation in a Duke Ellington tune) —
"Take the 'A' Train" is a jazz standard by Billy Strayhorn that was the signature tune of the Duke Ellington orchestra. // The use of the Strayhorn composition as the signature tune was made necessary by a ruling in 1940 by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). When ASCAP raised its licensing fees for broadcast use, many ASCAP members, including Ellington, could no longer play their compositions over radio, as most music was played live on radio at the time. Ellington turned to Billy Strayhorn and son Mercer Ellington, who were registered with ASCAP competitor BMI to "write a whole new book for the band," Mercer recalled. "'A' Train" was one of many tunes written by Strayhorn, and was picked to replace "Sepia Panorama" as the band's signature song. Mercer recalled that he found the composition in a trash can after Strayhorn discarded a draft of it because it sounded too much like a Fletcher Henderson arrangement. The song was first recorded on January 15, 1941 as a standard transcription for radio broadcast. The first (and most famous) commercial recording was made on February 15, 1941. // The title refers to the then-new A subway service that runs through New York City, going at that time from eastern Brooklyn, on the Fulton Street Line opened in 1936, up into Harlem and northern Manhattan, using the Eighth Avenue Line in Manhattan opened in 1932. // "Take the 'A' Train" was composed in 1939, after Ellington offered Strayhorn a job in his organization and gave him money to travel from Pittsburgh to New York City. Ellington wrote directions for Strayhorn to get to his house by subway, directions that began, "Take the A Train". (wikipedia) 
• • •

Tonight is the MLB All-Star Game, which I assume is the reason for running this puzzle today, this puzzle which obviously should've run yesterday by any normal crossword standard of judgment (this puzzle being far easier than yesterday's puzzle, which was clearly not a Monday). I'm all for timeliness, generally, but I just don't think this particular timeliness matters, especially since the connections to the All-Star Game specifically are so weak. It's Just Baseball-Related Idioms. There's nothing else to this. It's the most basic thing in the world. This could've run twenty or thirty or forty years ago no problem. In fact, I'd be very surprised if something very much if not exactly like it hadn't run somewhere before. There's just not much to it, and it doesn't particularly scream All-Star Game, so run it on Monday. I mean, if timeliness really means that much to you, just run it on Monday and say it was timed to coincide with the Home-Run Derby, which was yesterday (congratulations, by the way, to the Mets' Pete Alonso, who won it for the second consecutive time). HIT OUT OF THE PARK (15!). See, that wasn't hard. Now go back in time, rewrite the puzzle, and run it tomorrow. 


The fill on this was disappointingly olden and stale. ENYA ELIA ELISE EWW EWE EWERS I could go on (and on) but I'll spare you. The one place it gets slightly interesting is also the only place the grid gets a little rough, difficulty-wise. That place is "WHO, YOU?" This is probably the most original thing in the grid, which is good, but it's also an answer born out of desperation, a desperation created by a basic architectural decision—that is, the decision to position your themers (the first answers that go into the grid) in such a way that one of your crosses ends up with the letter pattern -H---U. There is almost nothing you can do with that letter pattern. The terminal "U" alone really limits your options, and that "H" narrows them down much further. So you get inventive and go with "WHO, YOU?" But now your puzzle gets a little harder, because "WHO, YOU?" is actually hard to clue in a very easy fashion, and then ADROIT is crosses it and adds another little layer of difficulty, and then you clue RACK in a way that's somewhat less than straightforward, and all of a sudden you've got an anomalously thorny section, which isn't a problem, actually. Again, it kind of makes the puzzle interesting, and adds needed difficulty (the rest of it being transparent and bland). But then you drop the ball completely by needlessly dragging Tonto-speak into the picture!? This may be the only time I say this, but I'd rather see a prefix (HEMO-) (just change RACK to RASH) (and there are undoubtedly much better solutions). Even if you (somehow) don't think the portrayal of Tonto has historically been super-racist, white people have jokily used movie-Indian / Tonto-speak (including especially KEMO Sabe) to caricature Native American people for a long time. It's not like KEMO is good fill. It's got a complicated, confused, controversial history. No one's life is enriched by it, no grid is made better. Just Avoid It. 


Five things:
  • EWW (58D: "That's disgusting!") — my god the fill is bad down there. It's almost performance-art bad. EWW next to its Bizarro twin WEE, which crosses the WEE in SWEET, while EWW crosses EWER, all while a long CBER (ugh) looks on. Zero effort to polish the grid there. Astonishing complacency.
  • FACILE (31D: Effortless) — I only ever heard FACILE in the sense of "overly simplistic" (as an argument), so I needed a bunch of crosses here.
  • BEFALLEN (40D: Happened to, poetically) — LOL "poetically." It's just a word. I had no idea it was particularly "poetic." I guess it's a little *dramatic*, but it's not like EBON or 'NEATH or something. It's Just A Word.
  • MIT (8D: Prestigious sch. in metro Boston) — 10,000 "ughs" to "prestigious," please stop. So many better ways to clue a major university than by its stupid prestige factor.
  • NUTSO (66A: Cockamamie) — this is twice in two days that I've run into the NUTTY / NUTSO dilemma. I don't think I thought of it as a standard xword dilemma before, but I do now. Reasonably common short fill, no way to decide one way or the other without crosses. Like ATON v ALOT—answer remains ambiguous even after you've gotten a couple of the crosses. Classic cruddy crossword(ese) dilemma.  
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

108 comments:

Abby Friedman 6:29 AM  

Can we discuss the Ares clue? Why on a relatively easy day (Mon/Tue) would you use a comics book reference to get a famous Greek god? But more importantly, it's the DC version of Ares that is a supervillain - the Marvel Ares actually joined the Avengers and fights for humanity/Earth...

Lewis 6:36 AM  

Nothing bush league or off base about this smooth construction, which filled in pitch-perfectly as a Tuesday should.

I liked the B-team – RELIEF, USHER, SAFE, the clue for CRY – and the backward METS that Bruce sneaked in.

Bruce, you’re a pro, and this one left me with a SWEET aftertaste. Please keep ‘em coming, and thank you for this!

mathgent 6:44 AM  

Those of us who have been around for a while know that Rex always pans a Bruce Haight puzzle. Despite the fact that they are nearly always of high quality. Mr. Haight sometimes comes to the blog and makes a good natured comment in response.

I really enjoyed the puzzle. It was fun finding the four baseball expressions. There was some sparkle and there were only single-digit Terrible Threes.

I haven't seen ELIA for a long time. When I first started solving, ELIA and ORR were staples.



bocamp 6:54 AM  

Thx, Bruce for this crunchy Tues. puz. Just the right mix of off-speed pitches to make it challenging.

Med+ solve.

As much as I love baseball, aside from COVER ALL THE BASES, I was slow to arrive at the other three.

Wasn't on the chucker's wavelength on this one.

Nevertheless, a most enjoyable BALLGAME once I caught on. ⚾️

Zany rendition of Take Me Out to the BALLGAME by OCC Barbershop Quartet. Kinda sums up my erratic solve.

@jae

Right in line with your experience and rating on Croce's 628. See you next Mon. :)
___

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

amyyanni 6:54 AM  

Baseball and Billy Strayhorn are 2 favourites, and today as adept didn't fit, but ADROIT did, realized that is a great word. Happy Tuesday.

OffTheGrid 6:54 AM  

@Rex did what he does. I did what I usually do, which is to enjoy solving a crossword puzzle. As it turns out I really liked this one. The themers are solid in-the language phrases with baseball origins. Toss in a few other baseball terms and clues and VOILA! A sparkling Tuesday puzzle. I loved all the EW WE words, especially the density in the deep south. There's even a diagonal WEE in the SW. How can you not love (or at least like) EWE, EWW, and EWERS in the same grid? SEAS crossed (PO)SEAS.
Anyone else cynically consider BRIBE as connected to baseball?

Joaquin 7:00 AM  

Don't you hate it when one of the world's leading educational institutions is described as "prestigious"? Yeah. Me too. Besides, we all know that MIT is primarily known for its football team.

Mireille 7:25 AM  

@Abby Friedman - Thank you! Especially when the most recent notable pop culture appearance was in the Wonder Woman movie!

OffTheGrid 7:28 AM  

Enjoy This Haley Dunphy Moment

rjkennedy98 7:30 AM  

This puzzle reminded me of The Office episode where Jan has an equality meeting where she explains sports metaphors to the female employees.

NB 7:32 AM  

Has anyone ever said the word CBER in real life?

kitshef 7:34 AM  

My issue with 'prestigious' is it added nothing important to the clue, but just made it longer. "Sch. in metro Boston" would have been shorter and equally effective. I've been solving a lot of puzzles from 2010 and one thing I notice is that clues are shorter.

The fun part of crosswords is not the act of reading clues, but rather figuring out what they are cluing.
"Happened to" (drop 'poetically')
"Address every aspect" (drop 'of something')
etc.

But overall, I liked the puzzle and definitely found it harder than yesterday's.

Son Volt 7:35 AM  

Definitely more of a Monday - fun theme, flat fill. Für ELIA, Für ENYA etc. - so many E words here. Side eye to both EWE and EWERS. GRAMOPHONE and the Lone Ranger does trend this thing old. I try like hell to stay away from the A TRAIN.

Decent Tuesday solve.

rjkennedy98 7:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zygotic 7:39 AM  

Best Haight Puzzle Ever.

To summarize, No one's life is enriched by it, no grid is made better. Just Avoid It. Like choosing to say “Shut the front door” instead of “shut the duck up.” cf yesterday’s discussion.
I briefly perused yesterday’s comments and let me remind you that if you don’t want to be thought a racist you should probably not use the arguments racists use.

This week is an 0-2 hole. Let’s hope Shortz doesn’t strike out on three pitches.

@Joaquin - The MIT clue is lazy. TBF, I don’t know that a good clue improves much since it’s crosswordese, but that is a lazy, no nanoseconds wasted, clue. Compare what KAC wrote about the care he puts into a puzzle with that clue.

Frantic Sloth 7:42 AM  

Ah! The ol' Mon/Tue skip-to-my-lou switcheroo.
Way easier than yesterday, methinks.

Very smooth sailing with one exception:
For 39A (Email about big lottery winnings, usually) I immediately thought SCAM, but outthinked myself via the email angle and entered SpAM.
FACILE put a merciful end to that because who wants to imagine whatever the hell FApILE might suggest.
EWW indeed.

I liked the theme. Pretty straightforward, typical early week, but nicely done. The fill has been around the block a few bajillion times, but hey...so have I.


🧠
🎉🎉

Renee 8:08 AM  

Enjoyed the theme. I did have a few sticky spots. Kept going back and forth between SPAM and SCAM for 39a. Even after getting FACILE I still wasn't sure. It didn't help that the NAIF/STRAFE cross gave me grief. I originally thought JANE for 42a (Babe in the woods..you know, Tarzan and Jane...but I guess they are in the jungle). Also toyed with STRIKE for 25d (Attack with a low flyover).

Barbara S. 8:12 AM  

I found this a solid theme, with baseball-originating expressions that are commonly used outside baseball. There are two words here that are used in ways I thought at first were incorrect, but found through research are fine.

1) ASHORE: “One way boats come.” My thought was that boats don’t generally come ON shore, which was what I thought ASHORE always meant. But, no. Merriam-Webster says “on or to the shore” and Lexico/Oxford says “to or on the shore or land from the direction of the sea.” So, ASHORE can mean simply “to the shore.” Good one.

2) FACILE: “Effortless.” Like Rex, I thought ”overly simplistic” doesn’t mean “effortless,” but Merriam-Webster offers “easily accomplished or attained (a facile victory)” and Lexico/Oxford says “(especially of success in sport) easily achieved; effortless (a facile seven-lengths victory).” Interesting that one source ties this definition to sports and the other doesn’t but, in any case, a meaning I didn’t know till this morning.

Lots of good pairs and groupings beyond the E-words: CRY and WAH, TBAR and ATRAIN, SAFE AND STRAFE crossing NAIF, NO SENSE and NUTSO, OWOW and INSECT BITE, SEAS and ASHORE, and two senses of "pitchers": RELIEF and EWERS. I liked GRAMOPHONE *because of* its old creakiness and BEFALLEN, which falls down the grid. “The outsiders” as a clue for THEM sat slightly uneasily. Somehow I would have preferred “the others.”

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

Yes they does.

Barbara S. 8:20 AM  

There’s a poem today by JOHN CLARE, born July 13, 1793.

AUTUMN

The thistledown's flying, though the winds are all still,
On the green grass now lying, now mounting the hill,
The spring from the fountain now boils like a pot;
Through stones past the counting it bubbles red-hot.

The ground parched and cracked is like overbaked bread,
The greensward all wracked is, bents* dried up and dead.
The fallow fields glitter like water indeed,
And gossamers twitter, flung from weed unto weed.

Hill-tops like hot iron glitter bright in the sun,
And the rivers we're eying burn to gold as they run;
Burning hot is the ground, liquid gold is the air;
Whoever looks round sees Eternity there.


* QUOTER’S NOTE: "Bent" here is defined as "a stiff grass which is used for lawns and is a component of pasture and hay grasses."

mmorgan 8:23 AM  

And I was thinking it was “wrack” one’s brains. Glad to be straightened out!

B.J.N. 8:25 AM  

@rjkennedy98

Par for the course is a good term; it means right on track. Below par means worse......wait, that should be better; that doesn't make sense.

What about second base?

Runs on Dunkin 8:25 AM  

I often don’t agree with OFL on things like this; but this one I just flat out don’t understand. “Prestigious” is bad now? SMDH

pabloinnh 8:32 AM  

Monday-level fer sure, a batting practice medium fastball right down Broadway, which I crushed like Pete Alonso, then sat back to congratulate myself and bask in my own glory. Nah, not really.

Anything baseball is OK with me, so I liked this one a lot, except that it was over too soon.

ADROIT always makes me think of one of those Mad Magazine parody poems from many years ago that rhymed ADROIT with Detroit, something I had never seen before and haven't seen since.

Thanks for the fun, BH. Not a homer, but surely a Base Hit.

SB note-- Finished at -1 yd, and missed a word that I thought I had entered. Grrr.

Glade 8:38 AM  

Yesterday's comments section was so refreshing - unusually so. I wonder what was different?

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

Prestige aside, MIT is in Cambridge not Boston.

Casey 8:40 AM  

Nice baseball themed puzzle Dr. H. This one took me about a minute longer to finish than yesterday’s. Maybe I’m in the minority but typical Tuesday here.

Unknown 8:44 AM  

A well constructed, and timely, puzzle.
(Though I'm not a fan of ELLA in a puz)

I appreciated the SCAM/SPAM ambiguity.

At this point I visit this site primarily to see how Rex manages to virtue signal, and true to form, once again he does not disappoint.

Anonymoose 8:54 AM  

Getting fussy about Monday/Tuesday appropriateness is just silly. It seems to be important only to the solving time and streak obsessed solvers.

Another Anon 9:01 AM  

@Anonymous 8:39. You are right but so is the clue/answer. The clue reads "Prestigious sch. in metro Boston". Metro Boston includes Cambridge. Yur welcome.

Whatsername 9:02 AM  

SWEET! Give me a crossword themed with most any sport and I’ll TEND to be totally COOL with that. I was a bit grumpy with yesterday’s but nothing to CRY about today. It’s been done before you say? Well what do you know, HERE IT IS again. Baseball isn’t even my favorite GAME but come on - tis the season and it’s a big day for it - so let’s celebrate it. Well done Mr. Haight, and - in anticipation of football season - On Wisconsin!

Nancy 9:04 AM  

Bruce Haight is a major league pro who can deliver a wicked slider that tails away from the batter (Thursday, Saturday) or a softball lob right across the plate that's perfect for batting practice (Tuesday). Today it's the softball -- but while the puzzle is easy to solve, it's also colorful and smooth and completely junk-free.

It's a puzzle I'd give to novice solvers. Nothing to frustrate them and plenty to entertain them. As for me, however -- taking into account all my at bat experience -- I saw each pitch coming from a mile away. I spent my time as I often do with easy puzzles: trying to identify the pitch without looking at the clue first. My success rate was about .750 -- better than Hank Aaron, Ted Williams and Willie Mays. But that's OK, Bruce, -- I know when you want to strike me out, you always can.

W.B. ROGERS 9:05 AM  

@ anonymous (8:39 AM)

The clue was "Prestigious sch. in metro Boston"

SouthsideJohnny 9:13 AM  

I thought it was a fair test - maybe a touch on the easy side, but not inappropriately so for a Tuesday. I don’t mind the “crosswordese” so much - that’s pretty much always going to be present. I’ll gladly accept that in exchange for a reduction in the usual cast of characters that the Times embraces with all too much frequency (esoteric and obscure words and phrases, a heavy reliance on trivia and other PPP, foreign words and phrases, flat out made-up-words . . . ).

A good example in today’s puzzle is the treatment of ENYA (which I know appears with enough frequency that it’s probably Tuesday-appropriate). At least it is in a section with reasonable crosses and doesn’t cross another PPP entry - wish that were a requirement (or at a minimum - standard operating procedure). As an aside - I have no clue if ENYA is a dude, a dudette, a dudette who used to be a dude (or vice-versa), a dude who is still a dude but “identifies” as a dudette (or vice-versa) . . . (N.B. I realize that there are all kinds of hues and colors in the rainbow - and I welcome and accept them all) - my curiosity is simply from a linguistic perspective. I’m just wondering where the evolution of the treatment of pronouns will end up. It seems like if it’s almost impossible to determine if someone is (or wants to be) a he/she/him/her/they/them . . . Then why bother with all of the wasted time and effort engaging in futility - why not just refer to everyone as “it” ? I know it has a connotation associated with something inanimate, but it also indicates “gender either unknown or unspecified”, and as anyone who has solved for a while and even debated the specifics in this forum, yes - words do in fact have multiple meanings and interpretations.

Casey 9:21 AM  

Don’t know about other ballparks, but the last time I saw an USHER at Yankee Stadium was about 1960. The guy would brush off your seat with his furry glove hand and hold out his other hand for the mandatory quarter.

Unknown 9:21 AM  

Was adding BRIBE and SCAM in the middle of the grid a passive jab at the history of baseball?

Unknown 9:25 AM  

Something that annoyed me was the answer SUP to the clue "'Yo, what's happening'" SUP is short for "What's up" which seems to be faux pas in crossword construction. Would this be an exception to the rule?

Michael G. Benoit 9:28 AM  

Amen!

Carola 9:33 AM  

Like @mathgent, I wasn't surprised that @Rex's response to a Bruce Haight puzzle was like an allergic reaction to an INSECT BITE, maybe a hornet sting, with an OW! here and an OW! there all over the grid. I don't really get it. Anyway. I thought it was a Cracker Jack Tuesday treat - I'd never thought about common phrases coming from baseball, and yet, there they were at the tip of my pen. Thank you @Lewis 6:36 and @Barbara S. 8:12 for pointing out other COOL theme echoes and correspondences and to those others who've skillfully worked the play-by-play into their comments. A winner of a morning for me.

Michael G. Benoit 9:34 AM  

Orinoco Flow was a HUGE hit in the 90s, and it made ENYA a legit star. Give it a listen:

https://youtu.be/LTrk4X9ACtw

Newboy 9:41 AM  

Usually love Haight, but not today for Rex’s reasons!

Michael G. Benoit 9:43 AM  

STRAFE/NAIF really threw me for a loop. Otherwise, I appreciated the timely baseball-themed puzzle.

Rex ignored (or solved too fast and failed to notice) the additional baseball-themed clues and responses:

"Kill the Ump!", e.g. = CRY
Pitchers = EWERS (Rex just whined about this word twice)
Kind of pitcher = RELIEF
Like a team with a day off = IDLE (and baseball beat reporters actually say this on an off day)
An umpire's outstretched arms signifies this = SAFE
Certain worker in a stadium = USHER
Ticker-tape parade honoree = HERO (this is a bit NYC-centric)

A lot of thought was put into the cluing to tie everything together. Nicely done!

Joseph Michael 9:44 AM  

OWOW? WAH? EWW? ISH? What language is this puzzle in?







pmdm 9:44 AM  

I tend to dislike Bruce's puzzles but for different reasons than Sharp's. But today I actually liked the puzzle. Some of Mike complaints seem to me more obligatory and comical than anything. At least, whenI'm in a good mood, I can laugh after I come here.

Masked and Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Well, looks like another Haight puz struck out with @RP. Oh well -- that's baseball.

Cool score, on findin this set of themers.

staff weeject pick: Hard not to like the EWE-EWW-WEE combo.

fave fillins: NUTSO. MORPH. RELIEF (pitcher). WHOYOU.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Haight.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


**gruntz**

thfenn 9:58 AM  

I've been wondering if we'd see a baseball themer and HEREITIS. Thought this was a great Tuesday, don't care if it was Monday easy. Very little junk, fun theme, and much that, well, resonated, including CBER, having been one, and INSECTBITE, having dealt with many. This was SWEET.

GILL I. 10:00 AM  

Well...this had a bit of quoi of the je ne sais in it. Perhaps missing a WEE WAH but....its Tuesday after all.
Ahhh...baseball. I'd rather watch paint drip dry. I know I sound anti-American, and to be fair, my American parents LOVED baseball, I just preferred climbing trees for mangos than watch the Dodgers and the Yankees.
Even though this missed my O WOW dance moves (as themes go), I thought it was pretty good. I knew @Rex would find fault somewhere. I still want to know if Bruce (who seems to have a great sense of humor) and his dog took a poop on @Rex's lawn.
Back to the puzzle. , So we get to KEMOsabe. Why did I know this would come up? Because I'm smart. Kemosabe supposedly means friend but others believe it means idiot. I know Tonto does. Boy did I love watching "The Lone Ranger." I dressed up as him. My dad even gave me a pair of silver cap pistols and a little holster so that I could ride my horse named Hi-o-Silver into the sunset and sing "Happy Trails."
Hey...do you get HER ITIS after an INSECT BITE? I like COOL STOOL SEATED next to BEFALLEN.
My WEE NUTSO runneth over.

kitshef 10:01 AM  

@Nancy's mention of Ted Williams brought to mind something I read just yesterday, that softball legend Joan Joyce struck Williams in an exhibition, and he couldn't even make contact. This was in 1962, so only two years after Williams hit .316 in his final year in the majors.

This sounds quite remarkable, but I was wondering if any of our more knowledgeable members know anything about it. Sometimes these exhibitions are pure clown show - but Williams doesn't seem like the type to "pretend" to strike out, even in an exhibition.

57stratocaster 10:02 AM  

The only place I've seen a T-bar in the last 30-years is in a crossword puzzle...

Peter P 10:11 AM  

With all the baseball clues, I was half-expecting ELIA with a clue to match the early 80s Chicago Cubs manager Lee ELIA who had this infamous (at least in the Chicago area) rant about Cubs fans and bleacher bums in particular: WARNING: Much strong language in the rant, but an amusing piece of baseball lore and in the upper echelon of baseball-related rants. Once again, do not cut and paste if you or people nearby have tender ears: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiVVbYK9HXw

Frantic Sloth 10:19 AM  

@kitshef 1001am Here's an article from MLB JJ is a legend around these parts.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Kitshef,
No one knows for sure. But most folks think it has to do with softball pitchers throwing underhand. That makes their release point so markedly different from what baseball players are used to seeing. The key to hitting is picking the ball up as quickly as possible. You may have heard hitters speak of seeing the ball well out of his hand. When a batter sees the ball immediately after its release he can track it pretty well, and that means contact with his bat.
No one can hit what they can’t see. And Joyce was terrifically fast. Her speed coupled with her, to Williams, unusual release point made her, for all intents and purpose, impossible to hit.
She also struck out Hank Aaron. And Aaron’s description of the experience is telling. He speaks of her ball rising. Which of course it can when it’s being delivered underhand. But that idea of a rising fastball is a critical mistake in baseball. Pitchers with truly high velocity are often credited with balls that rise as they approach the plate. That of course is impossible. And the bright boys at Carnegie Mellon have done wonderful work explaining why even the bet hitters, like Aaron are convinced the ball rises.
If you’re interested, check out a sports doc. Called Fastball ( I think) by the talented Jonathan Hock. Aaron talks about the rising fastball in it.

Back to Joyce— she was an unreal athlete. Pro golfer, pro bowler, the greatest softball player of all timeBy miles.

James K. Lowden 10:30 AM  

I think Rex’s point is that prestige isn’t the point. Prestige is about status. What makes universities like MIT important isn’t their cachet, but their education and their accomplishments.


When Gucci and Davos start counting their Nobel prizes, then maybe we can conflate renown with prestige. Until then, it’s simple laziness to suppose our great universities are great just because they look great on a resume.

Joe Dipinto 10:42 AM  

The rules are changed
It's not the same
It's all new players
In a whole new ball game


I see what's happening here: each theme answer is four words, so you take the consecutive word out of each answer to make the phrase COVER OFF LEFT GAME. Brilliant!

Or, if you go in the other direction you get WHOLE OF THE BASES. Again, brilliant! Or, for a stammering effect, do the third word in each for THE...THE LEFT BALL.

How do constructors come up with these things?

Fun fact:
Today's musical selection (see above) features Jeff Porcaro on drums. Jeff was the drummer in Toto and also played on yesterday's puzzle's Title Song.

Mikey from El Prado 10:58 AM  

Nice tight Bruce Haight puzzle. Appropriately Tuesday and aligned with the MLB ASG. Yes, it was easier than Monday’s, but it’s still Tuesday worthy. Rex, the issue with Monday’s puzzle has nothing to do with this puzzle and that they should have been switched. It”s more about Monday’s being an anomaly on its own, so let us move on.

I agree with the comment(s) regarding ARES. I’m not a big fan of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones or the new Disney (or whomever) takes on the old DC and Marvel comics I was reading back in the 60’s and 70’s. I know I’m a curmudgeon about these themes, but Rex doesn’t have a monopoly on curmudgeon-ness.

TTrimble 11:08 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny
I wouldn't mind seeing "it/it/its" as a personal pronoun choice. It's the singular of "they" (THEM/their). As for ENYA: she's only the number-one selling solo musical artist in all of Ireland, and as a musical act second only to U2 in terms of sales. (She's a vocalist by the way.) So while you might not know of her, she's definitely noteworthy enough for crosswords.

I found today's easier and quicker than yesterday's. I also thought it was slightly meh but mostly Tuesday-fine, appropriate for someone who is reasonably informed but also relatively new to crosswords. It's easier for me to pluck out the stuff I didn't care for: I had put in Ouch before OW OW and like the latter less. WAH is a little bit weak. I agree with @Abby Friedman about the cluing for ARES. And I think Rex's comments about KEMO carry a great deal more weight than the ones we saw yesterday about NIP, a very common word. (It's the moral scolding from a few that rankles, and yes, context matters. I am much more in accordance with the stance he adopted during the co-solve with Rachel. Now it sounds more shrill.) Pace Joaquin's Dictum*, I would have preferred something like "Unit of power" for WATT.

But those are some minor nits. I like WHO, YOU?, too. Also STRAFE and FACILE (as clued). And A TRAIN, as clued.

"Prestigious" is okay by me, as long as the first i is pronounced like ee and not a short i. I can't explain why, it just annoys me. It's not you, it's me.

*To boil it down (and hat-tip to @mathgent): it's not a definition, it's a clue.

jberg 11:14 AM  

I liked the theme, even though I slapped in 'grand slam home run' at 57A with no crosses; you know, it clears the bases so you start things over from one point of view. Even as I was filling it in, and noticed some problems -- any homer would clear the bases, etc. And not a single cross worked! But I kind of admired that.

I did think some of the cluing was a little off: ASHORE, BEFALLEN. I thought of ASHORE the way @Barbara S. did, but as she found, there is a secondary definition. Similarly, BEFALLEN almost always means 'happened,' not 'happened to,' but that turns out to be a legitimate secondary use. But why, on a Tuesday?

VOILA, though, definitely means 'tHERE IT IS;' HERE IT IS=Voici.

I did like the shout-out to my favorite cryptic subscription series, OUT OF LEFT FIELD.

I have an LP somewhere around the house of Duke Ellington and his orchestra performing at Wolftrap Farm; at one point the emcee says, "I'll let Duke Ellington introduce the next number, something he does very smoothly, very FACILEly..." (quoting from memory, not verbatim.

I always thought ENYA was a letter in the Spanish alphabet, but it turns out thats enye (or E-ENYE-E--I'm too lazy to dig that tilde out of character map).

@Nancy, the day's not over, but so far you're ahead in the competition for smooth [facile?] introduction of baseball metaphors.

L E Case 11:15 AM  

I LOVE baseball, but the Kemo Sabe clue was just so awful it ruined this whole puzzle and I still can't stop thinking about how this clue/answer was permitted.

thfenn 11:17 AM  

@Peter P, lost opportunity with all the other baseball related fill today. Thanks for the clip.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

There are still ushers at Yankee Stadium. They don't clean your chair anymore, but will still direct you to your seat if you ask them.

bocamp 11:30 AM  

@kitshef (10:01 AM)

I'd've guessed Williams got a diet of rise-balls, but according to @Sloth's link, Joan wanted to 'keep it away from his eyes', so threw drops and curves.

Joyce's speed was in the 70's, which from 40' would be on a par with 100 mph plus in baseball terms, i.e., same reaction time.

@Frantic Sloth (10:19 AM)

Thx for the great article; had no idea Joan was another Babe Zaharias. I remember her matchup with Louise Mazzuca in 1964 (29 inning 1-0 win for Joyce's Orange Lionettes over Mazzuca's Erv Lind Florists).

@Anonymous (10:23 AM)

All good points!
___

pg -20

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

egsforbreakfast 11:46 AM  

@Nancy 9:04. Your .750 “success rate” being better than Hank Aaron, Ted Williams and Willie Mays made me chuckle because use of “and” instead of “or” caused me to expect the word “combined”, which could lead to some pretty funny baseball GOAT discussions:

A: Williams was the best hitter ever.
B: No way, Pete Rose had a higher average than Williams and Reggie Jackson combined.

Anyway, really nice puzzle with a lot of interwoven stuff that Rex seemed to have missed.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Never heard of Joan Joyce and not sure why she's in the discussion today.

What? 11:54 AM  

Also a major grass for golf courses, sometimes mentioned by tv golf commentators.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

@Joe Dipinto 10:42. What were you going for there exactly?

Douglas 12:06 PM  

@57stratocaster10:02 AM. Many ski resort have T bars -only you sit on the crossing bar instead of holding it. It’s always entertaining to see the snowboarders try to navigate these as they usually end up flat on their faces.

Unknown 12:09 PM  

Came to this comments thread just to say that. Glad you did first.

BEE-ER 12:14 PM  

I am so far flummoxed with SB today. I'm at PG(great,not genius)-30(60 on list). I'm just not seeing it. I rarely get QB but usually Genius+. I haven't given up yet.

Nancy 12:24 PM  

There's a woman who struck out Ted Williams and Hank Aaron???!!! While my mission right now is to grab myself some Central Park before yet again another downpour/thunderstorm, I intend to spend some time reading about her when I get home. If only it could be found on YouTube. If only...

kitshef 12:24 PM  

Thanks Frantic, bocamp, and someone else (go blue, why not?) for the additional Joan Joyce information.

old timer 12:25 PM  

The unforgivable flaw here is OWOW as a response to a sting. Ouch is obvious. No one in history who got stung by an insect ever said OWOW. Maybe if some hippie of old was caught in a police drug sting, he said OWOW, but I doubt it.

Other than that, I loved the theme, and thought the puzzle was ADROITly done and timely. Could have run on a Monday, but so what?

I very much resent OFL nattering on about my hero Tonto. Not only was he played by a real Indian on TV, his lines were written to make him seem a lot smarter than his KEMOSABE. Racism usually makes the outsider took bad. This is, to coin a word, contraracist. And although the Lone Ranger was, in the original stories and radio shows, a former Texas Ranger, it is pretty clear he did his work throughout the Southwest, so it seems most likely KEMOSABE came from some Arizona tribe. And the usual trope, with Indians, is they are drunks who cannot handle the white man's firewater -- a term used in the Lone Ranger shows, as I remember. But Tonto was an obvious exception to that rule too.

When I was 13, I went to a summer camp that featured a post-camp tour of the National Parks in the Southwest. We went to the great Indian gathering in Gallup, and the tour leader warned us to expect to see drunken Indians on the streets. Didn't see any.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Eggs for breakfast,
Actually if you combine Williams and Jackson their numbers are better in every respect but one average. Combined Williams and Jackson hit.298. Rose hit .303. So yep he had a higher batting average.
But upon base percentage, slugging and, necessarily, OPS goes to the combined Williams Jackson combo. I’m chuckling because you picked the least useful metric for comparison.

Unknown 12:30 PM  

Literally why I came out today. That error irked me big time.

Tim Carey 12:34 PM  

Not since C.W. McCall in 1975.

TTrimble 12:36 PM  

@Mods
I think you deleted my earlier comment about SB. Please be assured that there were no spoilers. (I do not consider mentioning a word that is *not* in the list a spoiler, so long as it does not suggest another word that is -- and I made sure of that. There is a lot of precedence for this, people bringing up words not in the list on the day of that puzzle.) I am very careful about this, after the immense frustration I experienced some months back. I've saved my comment.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

And of course Ruth is better than all of them. His .342 average is only a whisker less than Williams’s .344.
But Ruth has him in slugging . 690 tops all time, and OPS 1.16 also tops all time.
Wilmas is the coolest. He was John Glenn’s wing man in Korea. He was a world class fisherman, and a helluva wing shooter. But alas, he’s only the second greatest left handed hitter of all time.

A 12:38 PM  

The theme is like a professional baseball game - a nice diversion with a high price. SWEET WEE EWES! Got to take out a LOAN. Guess they have to pay those RELIEF EWERS.

I’m AWARE that voilà is commonly used to mean HERE IT IS, but I wanted tHERE IT IS. Voici is literally “look here” and voilà is “look there.” Might be neither here nor there, but that distinction seems more than just semantic.

Loved Rex’s progression from “anomalously thorny” to “astonishing complacency.” And “performance-art bad” - maybe there was a deliberate attempt to use every WEEject in the book? I mean, AMES at the end was just piling on.

I also wondered about the MIT clue and what was “poetic” about BEFALLEN. Went to the MIT site and found their motto is “Mens et manus” (“Mind and hand”), and that “between 60 and 70 percent of incoming freshmen come to MIT with strong interests and involvement in the arts.”

More colorful clue for MIT: sch. whose grad. founded the Bubonic Bassoon Quartet

I fell for the SpAM SCAM, and Adam PREceded ABEL. Careless mistake - WAa instead of WAH gave me aERO, which I let by as a variation of air ace. WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH.

Looking back over the grid, I SEE WILE:
REMIT/MIT
POSEAS/SEAS
Crammed into the NW corner: AWA EWE OWO
ADROIT under RIGHT

Not so NUTSO, Mr. Haight.

Deus, tuorum militum (1649), composed by Emperor Ferdinand III, born July 13, 1608

Douglas 12:40 PM  

@L E Case11:15 AM - did you not even read the article Rex referred to? Nothing remotely racist about Kemo Sabe - sounds like you are just looking for things to be offended by.

jae 12:42 PM  

Easy-medium. Smooth grid, timely theme, liked it more than @Rex did.

I had the same SpAM before SCAM experience as @Frantic did and briefly wondered what FApILE was all about, then it dawned on me.

T. Speaker 12:49 PM  

@CAsey (9:21am)

In 1960, a large number of the men attending games (and they were mostly men) were wearing suits (night games were still somewhat rare then). Of course they wanted their seats cleaned off before sitting down, and of course they were quite willing to tip the usher to do so.

Today, there are still ushers, but it's a rare fan who shows up in a suit and wants his seat cleaned - and even rarer the fan who is willing to tip for it.

foxaroni 1:03 PM  

I'm in the process of ripping my CD collection to my computer (almost 19,000 files so far--quite a few duplicates, though). Anyway, in one of those "cosmic coincidences," yesterday I discovered I have five Enya CDs. I had forgotten, because I haven't listened to them in years. Weird.

Also, I'm not sure if this adds fuel to the fire, but whenever I see the words "kemo" and/or "sabe" I always am reminded of the parody of the song "Waterloo" by Stonewall Jackson:

The Lone Ranger and Tonto rode the trail
Catching outlaws and putting them in jail.
But the Ranger shot Tonto it seems
When he found out what "kemo sabe" means.

Sorry....

Otherwise, enjoyed the puzzle.

bocamp 1:04 PM  

@Anonymous (11:48 AM)

Today's theme could just as well include softball. Since @Nancy mentioned Ted Williams, and @Kitshef was prompted by that reference to relate Joan Joyce's dismantling of Williams in an exhibition of softball vs baseball greats, it seems to me a most appropriate discussion.

@BEE-ER (12:14 PM)

I agree; this is one of the toughest (so far) SBs I've encountered.

Btw, pg = pangrammatic genius, i.e., p = pangrammatic; g = genius. 😉

🤞 to you!

@TTrimble (12:36 PM)

I agree 100%. I've often held back from sharing words not accepted because they could clearly be spoilers for similar words. But, I don't see any problem with words that have no apparent relation to another word that would be on the day's list.
___

pg -11

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

2D Ouch, OWie, OWOW.

RIGHT OFF THE BAT - a phrase I've heard countless times, and perhaps have even used it myself. So why did it never occur to me that it was baseball-related? What other meaning of BAT would it come from? But when I try to picture a ball coming off the bat, it doesn't bring a sense of immediacy to me. Knowyourphrase.com has this to say: "When a batter swings at a baseball and hits it, the ball comes ‘right off the bat’ and the batter takes immediate action afterwards by running to first base. This quick response taken by the batter seems to be where the expression originated and got its meaning of ‘doing something right away, without delay.’ "

Thanks, Mr. Haight, for a nice Tuesday puzzle

camilof 1:13 PM  

Confidently wrote in MOSQUITOES and PHONOGRAPH instead of INSECTBITE and GRAMOPHONE and felt really good about getting those long downs with no crosses. Oh well!

@mmorgan I also always thought it was 'wrack my brain' but looked it up and it originates from the old timey torture rack (☉_☉)

Joe Dipinto 1:26 PM  

@Anon 12:04 – Oh, nothing really. I just noticed that all the theme answers were four words long. So I wondered if you could do something else with them.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

The cluing of the baseball phrases made me think and gave me aha moments.
So that was very enjoyable.
Let's remember the process as much as the product

ghkozen 2:03 PM  

STOP FORCING THIS FACILE AND BRAIN-DEADENING SPORT ON US NYT. You never do all football, basketball, hockey, or soccer puzzles. Stop making me suffer through the mind-crushing stupidity that is baseball.

A 2:20 PM  

@OffTheGrid, thanks for the tossing in that MITt link!

@kitschef, shorter clues instead of Shortz’s?

@mmorgan, I guess we’re just torturing our brains, not ruining them.

The word prestigious has an air of being more about appearances than actual worth or achievements. From etymonline: prestigious (adj.) 1540s, "practicing illusion or magic, juggling; deluding, deceptive," from Latin praestigious "full of tricks," from praestigiae "juggler's tricks," probably altered by dissimilation from praestrigiae, from praestringere "to blind, blindfold, dazzle," from prae "before" (see pre-) + stringere "to tie or bind" (see strain (v.)). Derogatory until 19c., marked as obsolete in Century Dictionary (1895); the positive meaning "having dazzling influence" is attested from 1913, from prestige.

@jberg, way ahead of me on the voici/voilà callout. Researching, I did learn that even in France, voilà takes precedent when two people can both see the object of reference.

@Frantic, thanks for the JJ link.

@Joe D, WHOLE OUT RIGHT COVER?

@old timer, great points about your hero Tonto. I always liked how he put KEMOsabe in his place.

Ramette 2:21 PM  

If Rodin sculpted Rex: The Overthinker

sharonak 2:26 PM  

@Joaquin 7 am, LOL

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

This was as basic and dusty a puzzle as I've seen in a while. Astonishingly dull fill, yet another baseball theme, there is no joy in Mudville, this puzzle has struck out.

Colette 3:13 PM  

Can't believe no one has said this yet, unless I missed it.
Bruce, you hit it out of the park on this one. I loved it. Such clever baseball idioms. I'm sure it's not easy to get this all into the puzzle without a little crosswordese.

Anyway, best to all.

TTrimble 3:33 PM  

@A 2:20PM
Thanks for that very interesting etymology! Some rare form on display in some of the comments.

SB: -8. I'm enjoying the challenge. (Thanks, @bocamp)

bocamp 4:21 PM  

@TTrimble (3:33 PM)

Just spent the better part of two hours digging out a common 4. 😵‍💫
___

pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Bax'N'Nex 4:50 PM  

Wait, Mike didn't like a Bruce Haight puzzle?? Shocking!

Amy 5:27 PM  

Liked it. Actually clocked in slower than my normal Tuesday so difficulty seemed right.

Anoa Bob 5:41 PM  

A few years back I submitted a puzzle to a major publication---not the NYT---and the editor wrote back that it was a solid effort but that baseball related themes had been done so much that in order for him to accept another, the theme would have to "Hit it out of the park". Apparently mine didn't.

So I was a little conflicted as to my opinion of todays offering. I'd say it is a solid effort but it stayed well within the confines of the ballpark.

Re 41A KEMO, I think I told this joke here a couple of years back but I believe it's worth repeating: The Lone Ranger and Tonto ride into a box canyon. When they realize the way in is also the only way out, they do a u-turn only to see that the entrance/exit is now blocked by a band of Indian braves on horseback, wearing war paint and carrying full battle gear. A visibly worried Lone Ranger turns to Tonto and says "It looks like we could be in trouble here". Tonto does a slow turn back to the Lone Ranger and says "Who is this "we", paleface?"

I'll show myself out.

Frantic Sloth 7:00 PM  


Yeah, sorry about that @jae 1242pm 😉

weight loss queen 9:28 PM  

Another vote for Straif/Naif being a wtf

albatross shell 10:59 PM  

Very common baseball related phrases make for a solid theme. The RIGHT OFF THE BAT derivation seems a bit strained, not in the puzzle but in the language. From the relatively early days of baseball. Running to first was new?

My attention was caught by the BEFALLEN STOOL that FLOATS. Musical chair-throne-stool sampling?

Or perhaps that was an S TOOL to go with the T BAR, the I SEE, the R EMIT, the B YEAR, the A TRAIN, the T HEM, the A WARE, the S CAM, the M ACE, the O WOW, the A SHORE, the C LAYS and of course the S ASSY.

Outsiders as THEM: Perfect pitch.

Air Rabbit 9:52 PM  

Thought the author clues were clever but e-reader as the hint to the theme's puzzle? Please. I've read everybody but Toole but none on a ereader, so that was just a sloppy "hint" All the books came out well before ereaders existed! But what is "atreat?" or A teat? Alas, I know not.

thefogman 9:26 AM  

The New York Times gets hundreds of crossword submissions every week, Will Shorts pickes this one as being one of the best?

spacecraft 11:25 AM  

Here we go again. Don't put KEMO in your grid because...what? Something about an ethnic slur? Well then, where do these slurs end? There wasn't a word about SUP (as clued--but even if you said "eat late" the "offendee" could argue slur). Where, oh where does it end??

I'm tired of ranting about this. I guess it's time to simply ignore it all and get on with it. I'm certainly not gonna change anybody's mind. So. To the puzzle, which did indeed seem easier than yesterday's. ISEE a COOL mini-theme: CRY WAH OWOW EWW. The revealer clue could read "What you might hear after an INSECTBITE." Too bad there's no ALOE in this crosswordese store to provide some RELIEF.

Being from Syndiland, I had no idea that this coincided with the ASG. At least now ISEE why they printed it "today" (then.) It's a 16-wide, so there's room for four common baseball-related phrases; no revealer needed. That's fine, I suppose, but the fill really is loaded with xwordese: ELISE ENYA ELLA ELIA TBAR ISEE EWERS IDLE ABEL SAWTO EWW WEE AMES, along with the crutchy TEEPEES and SASSY. Stuff we see again and again. FACILE enough to do, and with the above listed ELLA as DOD. Par.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Agree with Renee on facile/ares. A Natick in my book.

Burma Shave 12:09 PM  

AWARE-ISH NAIF

He tried TO COVERALLTHEBASES
RIGHTOFFTHEBAT with EWE,
ITIS OUTOFLEFTFIELD what he faces,
a WHOLENEWBALLGAME, who GNU?

--- "SWEET" ELISE EWERS

rondo 12:26 PM  

Knew OFL would throw some hate at Mr. Haight, never fails. Although I do agree about the EW-fest in the South. Agree with @Ramette above: "If Rodin sculpted Rex: The Overthinker"

@ghkozen - you are OUTOFLEFTFIELD re: mind-crushing stupidity: “The one constant throughout all the years…has been baseball.”

ISEE now why the M/T puzzles were flip-flopped here.

leftcoaster 4:59 PM  

Bruce Haight COVERs ALL THE BASES...

... in both theme and fill, including the old and the new, the apt and the easy, and the clever and the familiar. (Maybe a bit too familiar in this case?)

I like his reference to ABEL as a "member of his first family". That sounds kinda warm and cute. There’s also a small set of E-W anagrams: EWE, WEE, and EWW (not to mention the EWE and the WEE playing repeat parts in EWERS and SWEET).

Bruce Haight is mostly first-rate (despite what REX may state).



wcutler 9:34 PM  

In the July 13 puzzle, @mmorgan 8:23 AM wrote
And I was thinking it was “wrack” one’s brains. Glad to be straightened out!

I guess there are only two of us who thought that. I'm astounded to learn that "wrack" is barely even a word - it's a variant spelling in "rack and ruin".

And speaking of w's, were there way more of them than usual in that puzzle? Just not where I wanted one.

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