MGWCC #148

 crossword 3:28
puzzle -3:00 


hello and welcome to the 148th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Opening Day.” in celebration of the start of baseball season, we were charged with identifying a Major League Baseball team. not too tough, as the puzzle contained three rebus squares that pointed squarely to one team:

  • {Phrase preceding “three’s a crowd”} is TW[O’S] COMPANY.
  • crossing at the O’S square was {“Doesn’t that sound like a plan?”}, or “WH[O’S] IN?” i love this answer.
  • {He hit #1 and #2 in 1972 with “Alone Again (Naturally)” and “Clair”}? no idea who GILBERT [O’S]ULLIVAN is, but those song titles make me think maybe he was writing jingles for clairol commercials. also, if you’d told me that GILBERT_ULLIVAN was a theme entry in a rebus puzzle, i’d have bet pretty big on an ampersand being involved.
  • crossing that in the middle was somebody else i’ve never heard of, {Los Angeles Times editor, 2006-2008} JIM [O’S]HEA. the only LA times editor i could name is, of course, rich norris. that square in the middle was an S for a while (JIM SHEA and GILBERT SULLIVAN), but after i found the other two rebus squares i realized that i had to check this one again.
  • {1993 Al Pacino movie} is CARLIT[O’S] WAY. i have some vague memory of the movie itself, but i confess that i was only able to dredge it up due to its use in (pretty terrible) punny british tabloid headlines involving the carlos tevez-manchester city contract saga last fall.
  • {Famed Philadelphia cheesesteak restaurant} is GEN[O’S]. i was in philly last month for a few days, and i made it one of my goals to go to geno’s and get a steak. alas, circumstances conspired against me, and i was thwarted. i haven’t had a real philly cheesesteak in something like a decade.

so which MLB team is it? why, the baltimore orioles, of course, the only team known as the O’s. and how timely—the O’s are 4-0 to start the 2011 season. or so they tell me. i used to be a seamhead, but i haven’t followed baseball (except the fictional kind) for about 3 years. anyway, it’s a very elegant rebus, isn’t it? usually in crosswords we ignore punctuation (and in blogging, some of us ignore capitalization), but here the apostrophe is a part of all six of the rebused entries, plus the meta. very nice.

bonus baseball fill:

  • {Wood used for baseball bats} ASH.
  • {Slugger Holliday} MATT.
  • {All-Star ___} TEAM.
  • {Network that hasn’t broadcast the World Series since 1995} ABC.
  • {1996 NL MVP Ken} CAMINITI. did you remember him from last week, when he was used to clue KEN?
  • {Baseball stat} HITS.
  • {Dock ___ (Pirates pitcher who threw a no-hitter in 1970 while tripping on LSD)} ELLIS. this is one of the all-time great baseball anecdotes. also, what is with these people named ellis and their crazy drug trips? yeah, i’m lookin’ at you, bret easton ellis.
  • {Coffee serving, casually} CUPPA. actually, this didn’t get a baseball clue, but could have.

odds & ends:

  • {“Geronimo!”} is roughly equivalent to “BANZAI!”, i guess. or maybe “BONSAI!” that translates roughly to “i am going to drop small trees and plants on your head from a great height.”
  • {Large landmass} is ASIA. sure, asia’s large, but i thought the landmass was eurasia.
  • {1990s-2000s NBA player ___ Rose} JALEN. in the news of late for reasons good (the recent “30 for 30” documentary on the fab five), indifferent (grant hill’s letter to the NY times rebutting rose), and bad (recent DWI arrest).
  • {Men with myrrh} MAGI. according to tradition, only one of them had myrrh (melchior, if memory serves). according to the scriptures, though, there’s no record of how many magi actually visited jesus in bethlehem—only that they brought three gifts. so the clue is correct.
  • {“Winnie-the-Pooh” author’s initials} AAM. easy enough, but ugh. worst fill in the grid. worse than {Half a Gabor sister} ZSA.

okay, that’s all from me. peace out.

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22 Responses to MGWCC #148

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    343 correct entries this week. Orioles are 4-0 as of this writing, #1 in the entire Major Leagues!

    Note also that the apostrophe is used differently in each of the three cases, and consistent with the crosser (classic apostrophe, Irish surname, possessive).

    And Joon — I’m stealing that solution graphic for this Friday’s post.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    Took me a while as I was distracted by MET and SHEA hidden in the downs. And I was really trying to get EXPOS to be right. But sometimes an O’S is an O’S is an O’S.

  3. AngelSong says:

    I’ll be curious as to the thoughts of Matt and others on this one. Since I am not a regular MLB fan, the only team I was aware of that met the pattern of “[vowel]’s” was the A’s. When I saw that the only vowel used in the rebus squares was “o,” I thought about the Orioles, not because I have ever heard the nickname, but just because they were the only MLB team I know of that start with O.

    So in trying to decide between my two possibilities, I followed this basic chain of reasoning. The “unique” feature of the rebus square was the “‘s,” not the “O.” So if I have two teams, the Orioles and the A’s, each of which arguably satisfies half of the rebus, the more relevant one would be the A’s. Moreover, “O’s” could also point to the A’s. How? Because they are from Oakland, of course!

  4. joe c says:

    There’s a great cartoon made from a transcription of Dock’s story about the game at

  5. Tony says:

    Off to their best start since 1997! Maybe the rebirth of “Orioles Magic” and “The Oriole Way!”

  6. zifmia says:

    If you got that far, googling something like “baseball o’s” would probably be good enough to find the answer. I screwed up by not recognizing the rebus squares properly. Somehow instead of seeing them as “o’s” in a box, I managed to see it as one letter and an apostrophe dropped, and I wasn’t even consistent — I had the omitted letters reading “S O S” (which didn’t go anywhere).

    I also ended up submitting A’s for a similar reason — that they were the only team I routinely hear referred to with a letter – apostrophe – s name. Of course, I knew it was wrong, I just gave up finding something better.

    On the bright side, this morning I finally learned how to enter multiple letters into an across lite box (although not an apostrophe), maybe that will help on future puzzles.


    Actually when I Google “baseball O’s” the first thing that comes up IS the Oakland A’s. I have to tell Google that I _really_ meant to use the letter O.

  7. AngelSong says:

    But Zifmia, I think that your reason at the end is exactly the reason that A’s should not be considered “wrong.” A’s are the only team that are generally referred to with a letter apostrophe s name. Just looking at a few sports sites, pretty consistently the headlines say “A’s” and “Orioles” respectively. The main exception I see is when “O’s” is used in the possessive sense, such as “O’s Guthrie hospitalized.”

  8. Faygelah says:

    Maybe it’s because I was in Boston this weekend when I finished the puzzle, but I thought the meta was OS in a BOX or B(OS)OX and somehow I thought the answer was 6 letters long (not sure where I got that!) the 6 letter team was the RED SOX. Didn’t matter anyway. I forgot to send it in.

  9. Matt Gaffney says:

    AngelSong — I see your logic, and if the three theme cells had been I’S, O’S and U’S, for example, then A’s would have been an OK fit (but better if there were an E’S as well, of course). But with three O’S only in the grid, and one of the Major League teams having their nickname as precisely that, I think only O’S can be considered correct (well, not exactly — see next paragraph). Interested in others’ views on this as always, though.

    I am accepting the RED SOX as an alternate answer this week, though, which four solvers sent in using the clever logic that if you put O’S in a BOX, as the theme demands, you get B(OS)OX! Neat. It ignores the apostrophes, true, but the cryptic-style logic is appealing enough that I’m going to count those four as correct.

  10. Alex says:

    There is plenty of evidence that “O’s” is an acceptable stand-in for “Orioles.”

  11. Faygelah says:

    Damn, damn, damn.

  12. joon says:

    the A’s are the most common, but in addition to O’s, the mariners are often called the M’s. i’m struggling to think of more. i guess the jays don’t really count, right? :) anyway, i strongly dispute the claim that the A’s (my favorite team, incidentally, back when i liked baseball) are the only team generally referred to as the [letter]’s. in the particular case of the O’s, it’s more than just an occasional headline possessive, as the MLB store shows.

  13. Johnny says:

    Don’t forget that the “A” in A’s is an abbreviated form of Athletics – the club’s full name – and that it doesn’t have an apostrophe in its non-abbreviated form.

  14. Tony says:

    The Orioles started wearing the O’s hats a couple of years ago as their alternate home cap.

    As for the Athletics, I think they are the only team whose name is an adjective.

  15. john farmer says:

    “As for the Athletics, I think they are the only team whose name is an adjective.”

    Athletic can be an adjective, but by the same token, so can National, Red, Brave, Twin, Royal and probably a few others, no?

  16. Howard B says:

    (Met)ropolitan. Their more common abbreviation is also a past-tense verb. (“Meet the Mets, meet the Mets….” as the old song went).

  17. lloyd says:

    Confidently put in Kinsley, as in Michael Kinsley, instead of JIM O’SHEA [ LA Times editor.] The i and e matched up and Kalen was as good as JALEN to me.

  18. Abby says:

    Smelled the rebus early since 17A didn’t fit, but wasn’t sure what it was until I got a second one. First thought it might be “O IS” instead of “O’S”.

    I consulted the list of MLB teams to make sure there wasn’t some other O team I didn’t know about, but other than that, it was a walk in the ballpark.

  19. Joanna says:

    zifmia: I did the same. I figured out SOs could be strike outs and started trying to look up baseball stats to see if anyone stood out with strikeouts (kind of tricky since I don’t know how baseball works)

    Eventually I worked it out :)

  20. Karen says:

    The only O teams I could figure for baseball were Oakland and the Orioles, and Oakland is always known as A’s, so that left the other one.
    Lots of sports names in the puzzle also.

  21. Ben Bass says:

    On the flip side of their current hot start, the Baltimore Orioles started the season with 21 straight losses in 1988, shattering the previous major league record of 13. They lost an embarrassing 107 games that season.

    The O’s fired manager Cal Ripken Sr. after losing their first six games, replacing him with Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, but still couldn’t buy a win for another two weeks. The 0-21 stain they left on the record books will be difficult to “best.”

    They eventually got their first win against the Chicago White Sox at old Comiskey Park. I was there that night, having just embarked on my eight-year career as a vendor at White Sox and Cubs games, and still remember the huge throng of reporters interviewing a beleaguered Robinson after the game around the visitors’ dugout.

  22. SHAW says:

    Joon, I just looked at SIMBASE. You and your friends are incredible nerds, and I totally wish I was one of you. Awesome.

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