MGWCC #166

crossword 3:12
puzzle -2:30 

joon here with the recap of the 166th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Position Paper”. this week we’re asked to identify one of the nine baseball positions. there are four long answers in the grid:

  • {Weightlifting equipment} clues the BENCH PRESS.
  • {2000 Best Picture nominee, casually} is CROUCHING TIGER. the “hidden dragon” part of the title is very well hidden indeed.
  • {State song of Kansas} is HOME ON THE RANGE.
  • {2012 presidential candidate with excellent hair} is MITT ROMNEY, although i hadn’t noticed anything unusual about his hair. is this a joke or an actual compliment? or both?

well, three of these phrases begin with words that definitely evoke a single position, namely, the catcher. the catcher is the one who wears a mitt instead of a regular glove, who positions himself at home plate, and who spends most of a game crouching. as for the fourth (first) theme answer, johnny BENCH of the 1970s reds is widely considered the greatest catcher of all time. so there you go. easy enough for non-baseball folks, but every single one is a dead giveaway for a baseball fan.

the crossword wasn’t as easy as a few recent week 1s, but … actually, wait. according to my records, that’s the fastest i’ve ever solved any MGWCC crossword on paper, so maybe i’m wrong. either that or i was distracted by the fact that the first two across clues, {Jake and ___ (internet comedy duo)} and {Freaky Frank}, were both unknown to me. the latter turned out to be ZAPPA, which makes sense, i guess, but my first thought was LONGO (sorry) and my second was, “what’s his face who briefly had that comedy show on TBS and used to do those inane impersonations on the FOX NFL pregame show?” (i never followed through on this thought. even now i can’t remember his name. something italian-sounding, maybe beginning with ca.) my third thought, if i’d had one, would have been DREBIN.

anyway, the first one turned out to be AMIR. no idea who those guys are, but … let’s take a look, shall we?

i’m back. gah. don’t go over there. trust me, i’m doing you a favor. i won’t even hyperlink it.

other bits & pieces:

  • {“Ooh! ___!”} AAH. oh! poppin’ fresh dough.
  • {Dodge in traffic, once} is ARIES. you can’t fool me.
  • {Credit for getting someone home safely} is an RBI. this thinly-disguised trick clue is wearing an even thinner disguise than usual in a baseball-themed puzzle where “home” is already being used in the meta to mean home plate.
  • more baseball content: {Baseball great Wagner} is HONUS.
  • {Planet with apes} is (spoiler alert!) EARTH.
  • {Business Bart crank calls} is MOE’S tavern. i had trouble parsing this clue. i thought Business Bart was a person.
  • {Half of Gnarls Barkley (ECOLE anag.)} is CEE LO. i have heard of this person, and of gnarls barkley, but i didn’t know that he was in it.
  • {Like Corkonians and Galwegians} IRISH. those be some awesome demonyms.
  • {___ Bullock (Tina Turner’s real name)} is ANNIE MAE. wow, that’s obscure.
  • {Good name for a sincere guy} is ERNEST.

well, that’s all from me. how’d you guys like this one?

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13 Responses to MGWCC #166

  1. Jeffrey says:

    I also had it at BENCH. But where’s CARTER?

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Ding ding ding — new record, 389 correct entries this week. Obliterating the old record of 364. And only one incorrect entry (SHORTSTOP — you know who you are).

    I had AJAR, ANNS and JOES in the NW, then noticed the semi-dupe with ANNIE MAE so had to fall back on AMIR and Jake. More uplifting clue than {Rabin’s assassin}.

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    I can see where the Short Stop guess came from. Moments into it, I felt sure that’s where Matt was headed. I thought he must have needed SS, else why would he include the term at 20A? I don’t think I’ve ever seen this in a crossword, and I’m sure he’d never get it past WS – all right, maybe the bard, but not our contemporary wordsmith. (However, if you like cryptics, Cyclops in the British weekly Private Eye does much coarser terms routinely. His very clever cluing is roughly split between political digs and ribaldry, either for the entry or the surface reading.) Then Bench emerged, so I could see Matt might be doing Catcher, but there’s another SS in Press. It wasn’t until crouching that I knew the answer with certainty. I’ve been known to swear a time or two, particularly on Week 4s or 5s, but has anyone else seen profanity in crosswords?

  4. Don Lloyd says:

    Interesting number, that 389! Happens to be the number of home runs Mr. Bench hit in his professional career.

  5. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    @Paul Coulter – Have you done BEQ 12/10/08? You can Google it.

  6. Dan F says:

    I wish my high-school buddy AMIR would get more famous.

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    I would never go out of my way to use a vulgarity in a crossword, but it was necessary in that corner.

  8. joon says:

    of course you wouldn’t, matt. who would do such a thing?

  9. Barbara says:

    Darn! I totally thought CATCHER because of the aforementioned words Joon pulled out of the puzzle. But, being very un-baseball-oriented, I thought it would be too simplistic if I guessed it. Didn’t send it in, even though my brain mulled CATCHER all weekend.

    I even rotated the paper, thinking the title, “Position Paper,” was handing me a different path … nothing like trying to read the clues backwards, upside-down, and diagonally …

    I really struck out …

  10. Erik says:

    That was a meatball.

  11. Joanna says:

    Wikipedia claimed her name was ANNA MAE. Wikipedia, why would you lie to me? :(

    Found this easy despite only having a vague clue about baseball. Like Barbara I was mulling it over all weekend.

    *insert dig here about how in cricket, a real man’s game, most of the people on the field don’t get to wear a glove, they have to catch with bare hands*

  12. pannonica says:

    “Ding ding ding — new record, 389 correct entries this week. Obliterating the old record of 364.” —Matt Gaffney

    I’d be interested to see a timeline of correct answers expressed as a percentage of subscribers (also submitters), compared week-to-week. That is, all W1s, all W2s, etc.

  13. wobbith says:

    joon – it’s Frank Caliendo and he still has the FOX NFL pregame gig.

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