MGWCC #383

crossword 3:45
meta -3 minutes 
mgwcc383hello and welcome to episode #383 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Leadoff hitters”. for this week 1 puzzle, matt asks us to name a Major League Baseball team that’s in this year’s postseason. what are the theme answers? there are four long across answers in the grid:

  • {Subtitle of a 1980 John Lennon classic} is DARLING BOY. the song is “beautiful boy”, about his son sean. (did julian have one about him too? i feel like he might have, but i don’t remember.) i’ve seen this fact somewhere, perhaps in a clue for SEAN or maybe even ONO, but i’ve never heard the song. okay, it’s four minutes later and now i’ve heard the song. it’s … okay.
  • {Square in Venezia} is PIAZZA SAN MARCO, aka saint mark’s square.
  • {Hit off Deana Carter’s “Did I Shave My Legs for This?”} is apparently STRAWBERRY WINE, and no, i don’t know this song either. seen DEANA in crossword puzzles and that’s about it. and i already listened to “beautiful boy” so i’m not going to bother with this one.
  • {Textbook publisher} is MCGRAW-HILL.

so—ron DARLING, mike PIAZZA, daryl STRAWBERRY, and tug MCGRAW were all pretty famous for being new york mets, and they’re back in the playoffs this year after something like a decade-long drought, so there’s your answer.

it’s an easy meta, suitable for a week 1, and even a complete non-sports fan can google these names and figure out what team they correspond to. or as tug mcgraw would say, “ya gotta believe!” (or was that parappa the rapper? i get them confused.) it’s a fine easy meta. i’ll ding the title slightly since only two of these four players (piazza and strawberry) were hitters; but for that, it’d be a perfect title, since the name of each player “leads off” its theme answer.

the fill was okay. there was some stuff i liked, including {Store that sounds like it sells chess equipment} PAWN SHOP, and some stuff i really didn’t, like {Drawing: abbr.} ILLUS and {Washington Redskins owner Daniel} SNYDER (ugh, that guy—the worst). i’m not sure how i feel about {Grand buildings} PALAZZOS, either—the plural in italian would be PALAZZI, i’m pretty sure, and in english, you’d probably just say palaces. without the -S, this would be a perfectly suitable answer for a baseball crossword.

play ball!

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8 Responses to MGWCC #383

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 493 right answers this week.

    If Julian did write a song about John, it wouldn’t be a happy song! Felt neglected by him. McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” to Julian partly in recognition of that.

  2. Matthew G. says:

    Nice meta. I solved the meta on Friday, and then went to the Mets game on Saturday night, where I saw Max Scherzer no-hit them in arguably the best-pitched no-hitter of all time (seventeen strikeouts, Game Score of 104). And tonight I’m off to the AL Wild Card Game. Thanks to Matt for getting us all in the October spirit.

  3. Travis H. says:

    Not being much of a sports fan (my Achilles heel in crosswords generally), I’m grateful to the Belle & Sebastian song “Piazza, New York Catcher” for pointing me in the right direction on this one.

  4. Jim Schooler says:

    FYI, even though Ron Darling and Tug McGraw were National League pitchers, they still were in the line-up to hit when it was their turn in the rotation. It’s the American League that has designated hitters to take the pitchers spots in the line-up.

    • joon says:

      mcgraw, as a reliever, would rarely have been up to bat (although it’s true that multiple-inning relief appearances were much more common in the 1970s than today). at any rate, nobody would refer to darling or mcgraw as a “hitter” regardless of which league they played in.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        McGraw lifetime batting .182, Darling .144, typical hurler numbers I think. My other idea to acknowledge the two pitchers was “Starting Pitchers and Leadoff Hitters” but it seemed like too much, especially since they were NL.

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