It’s “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” Tuesday, and today’s crossword will have you on the edge of your seats. ALL OUT (20A: 100%, as effort) in the top and it’s the bottom of the ninth, sweat dripping down the BRIM (14A: Hat part) of your YANKEE (22D: Ruth, for one) cap, two outs, score tied 8-8 (or maybe OCHO–OCHO) (41A: Spanish eight), and AT BAT (9A: Up), the STAR of the team. Ball… strike… strike… ball… ball… and it’s FULL COUNT…
Solving time: 39:19 because it took me forever to figure out the theme, but it was smooth sailing from there on out.
Theme: The aforementioned FULL COUNT (63A: 3-2… or what’s represented by the answers to this puzzle’s starred clues?) meant that 3 BALLs and 2 STRIKEs were hidden throughout the puzzle.
- Apparently a game Will Shortz played as a child, BALL IN A CUP (11D: Children’s toy that tests dexterity). I imagine this was popular among the youth before the advent of smartphones, right up there on a definitive ranking of pastimes next to blankly staring at walls and domesticating wolves.
- BALL JOINT (17A: Car part that works in a similar manner to the human hip). More to come on this later.
- The aptly-timed CANNONBALL (29D: Cry just before hitting the pool). I wish I were at a pool now. 🙁
- STRIKE BACK (37A: Retaliate) as well as
- RENT STRIKE (42A: Tenants’ protest) both fit nicely in the puzzle and set up the neat motif of all the ball clues going down and strike clues across.
Additionally, I found a bunch of baseball-themed clues scattered throughout, the majority of which I mentioned in my intro. The theme was creative and original, especially for a Tuesday, and I had a lot of fun solving this crossword!
High School Musical’s BODACIOUS (38D: Attractive, informally) Corbin Bleu doesn’t want to be a STAR (60D: Hollywood Walk of Fame symbol), he just wants to play ball!
Head-scratchers: While I do enjoy listening to NPR’s “Car Talk” during long car rides, I felt wholly unprepared with identifying a BALL JOINT or intuiting VTEN (24A: Dodge Viper engine). Autonobile, more like it.
NANU nanu?? (48A: When doubled, a sitcom sign-off) This gif came up when I Googled it, and I am potentially even more confused than before. Any and all explanations are welcome.
Clue of the day: My only critique of the puzzle was that there was only one pun; namely, ATLAS (65A: Place setting?), which could have been used to enable another Latin/Greek-themed clue. Alas, you can’t have OMNI (39A: Upscale hotel chain and another missed opportunity for Latin)
Greek of the day: Switching it up while sticking to the Classics, we have Trojan HELEN (19A: Mythical abductee). This clue wasn’t the apple of my eye because of its vagueness, but I still appreciated the shout-out.
This pretty much sums it up.