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New York Times, Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Author:
David J. Kahn
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1813/15/199412/12/20185
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4451224571326
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.5514211
David J. Kahn

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FJQXZ} Spans: 3 This is puzzle # 170 for Mr. Kahn. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David J. Kahn notes:
I'm a big baseball fan and have written two baseball-themed books of puzzles. So when the Cubs made the World Series for the first ... read more

I'm a big baseball fan and have written two baseball-themed books of puzzles. So when the Cubs made the World Series for the first time since 1945, I wrote this puzzle on 68-Across (and, yes, on a 8-Down, too). But when the Indians tied Game 7 in the eighth inning, I thought my puzzle was toast, at least for another year. But the crossword gods were with me and Will/Joel edited the puzzle the very next day!

In constructing the puzzle, I liked the answers WORLD SERIES RING and IVYCOVERED WALLS and went from there. I also had a fun quote by ERNIE BANKS in the clue for him, which never made it to print ("It's a beautiful day for a ball game. Let's play two!")

Jeff Chen notes:
I have to admit, I'm not much of a baseball fan — but I do love me some baseball lore. How could you not enjoy something called ... read more

I have to admit, I'm not much of a baseball fan — but I do love me some baseball lore. How could you not enjoy something called the "Curse of the Billy Goat"? Such sadness that this beautiful phrase is too long for a weekday crossword, at 19 letters. Damn you, crossword gods!

David interlocks several long answers about the Cubs in his tribute puzzle. I really like WORLD SERIES RING and IVY COVERED WALLS — I'd happily use them in a themeless or as bonus fill in another puzzle. NATIONAL LEAGUER … it's fine, but more neutral to me. It also has a faint sniff of NLER and ALER, which we see in crosswords fairly often. (They are legitimately used in media, but they seem so inelegant to me.)

I'm sure Cubs fans will appreciate ERNIE BANKS and Harry CARAY. I didn't know much about either, but CARAY was apparently a real personality! I'm going to get glasses like his. (Don't tell my wife.)

Sometimes it's neat to get so many interlocking answers in an early-week, for the sheer novelty. The problem with such interlock, though, is that it creates inflexibility and thus filling difficulty around every crossing. David does better than I would have thought around most regions, the northwest particularly good. Okay, STUBBLES and PITAS are both slightly wonky as plurals, but everything else around that NATIONAL LEAGUER / ERNIE BANKS intersection is smooth.

It surprised me that the one area I really had trouble with is the middle — not around an intersection of themers! Ah … or is it? As fun as Harry CARAY might be to some, GAOL / a long RRN (random Roman numeral) in CCLIV / ELAL are pretty rough for one little section. (I think EL AL is generally okay, but it is one of those entries I only know through crosswords.) That center is an area ripe for solvers crying foul.

Along with a ton of baseball-oriented stuff like MOP UP (closing out a rout) and STL (as the Cubs' rivals), it was more crossword glue than this baseball non-fan wanted. But I can see how Cubs fans might love how packed it was.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1115 ( 24,479 )

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Across
1
"My Kind of ___ (Chicago Is)" : TOWN
5
Went 90, say : SPED
9
The former Mrs. McCartney : LINDA
14
What you may think of : IDEA
15
Concern for beachcombers : TIDE
16
Tinker to ___ to Chance (Cubs double play combo) : EVERS
17
Curse of the Billy ___, Cubs "jinx" that ended in 2016 : GOAT
18
Western tribe : UTES
19
Things proofreaders look for : TYPOS
20
Hall-of-Famer known as Mr. Cub : ERNIEBANKS
23
Racer Yarborough : CALE
24
Balls : ORBS
25
Blog annoyances : TROLLS
27
Backbone-related : SPINAL
30
The year 254 : CCLIV
32
Opposite of baja : ALTA
33
Its inaugural flight was from Geneva to Tel Aviv : ELAL
35
Kind of blitz : MEDIA
39
2016 award for each Cub : WORLDSERIESRING
42
Shag or bob : STYLE
43
English lockup : GAOL
44
Barely beat : EDGE
45
Judy Jetson's kid brother : ELROY
47
Moves like a whirlpool : EDDIES
49
Entertain grandly : REGALE
52
Trash-toting transport : SCOW
53
Sleep like ___ : ALOG
54
Wrigley Field events since only 1988 : NIGHTGAMES
60
Finish pitching in a lopsided game : MOPUP
62
Uncouth one : BOOR
63
Newswoman Logan : LARA
64
Capital in a Cole Porter song : PAREE
65
Certain tax-free investment, for short : MUNI
66
Home to French silk makers : LYON
67
Bar drink taken in one gulp : SNORT
68
What many writers write on : SPEC
69
Cubs slugger with 609 home runs : SOSA
Down
1
Buster Brown's canine sidekick : TIGE
2
Something whiffed : ODOR
3
Withdraw gradually : WEAN
4
Cub, e.g. : NATIONALLEAGUER
5
Targets of close shaves? : STUBBLES
6
Some wrap holders : PITAS
7
First place : EDEN
8
What many writers write on : DESK
9
Allow to : LET
10
Unique feature of Wrigley Field : IVYCOVEREDWALLS
11
Country whose capital is more than 4,500 feet above sea level : NEPAL
12
Like some humor : DROLL
13
Burros : ASSES
21
Stat for Jon Lester : ERA
22
Cubs' divisional rivals: Abbr. : STL
26
Hoopsters' hoops : RIMS
27
Familiar sayings : SAWS
28
Secret plan : PLOT
29
Modest reply to a compliment : ITRY
30
Hall-of-Fame sportscaster Harry who regularly led the Wrigley Field crowd in singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" : CARAY
31
Oscar : films :: ___ : ads : CLIO
34
Toy block brand : LEGO
36
"What ___ tell you?" : DIDI
37
"Picnic" playwright : INGE
38
Matures : AGES
40
PC brand : DELL
41
Thrilling : ELECTRIC
46
Kylo ___, Adam Driver's role in "Star Wars" : REN
48
Ballpark frank : DOG
49
Stadium walkways : RAMPS
50
Internet finance firm : ELOAN
51
Decide to play for pay : GOPRO
52
Glimmered : SHONE
55
Some early PCs : IBMS
56
Ascend : GOUP
57
Chicken salad ingredient : MAYO
58
Boy with a bow and arrow : EROS
59
Mideast capital supposedly founded by a son of Noah : SANA
61
Favorite : PET

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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