Sam Trabucco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Been doing a lot of Sam’s puzzles lately! He’s got two solos and one co-authored puzzle in the Queer Qrosswords puzzle pack (highly recommended—find out how to get it yourself here)—his “LGBT Rights” theme was particularly well done. I haven’t done his QQ themeless yet, but here he is with an NYT themeless. And somehow it felt Saturday-tough to me?
- MAMA BIRD and TIGER MOM are good, though awfully duplicative of one another.
- “WELL, DAMN,” “WELCOME TO MY LIFE,” “PLEASE STOP” (which … I should use more often), “DON’T WAIT UP FOR ME,” “NEVER FAILS,” and “AW, MAN!” in the colloquial remarks category. Not quite as keen on “I’M A FAN” as clued—I feel like that’s something you’d say when asked your opinion on something, and not something you’d say to someone you admired because it sounds kinda dorky. “Do you like Sam’s puzzles?” “I’m a fan!” Versus “It’s so nice to meet you, I’m a fan!” You’d say, “I love your work!” instead. And if you say “I’m your number one fan,” that person should run like hell.
- SURF SHOPS, MOLASSES, ICED COFFEE also zippy.
- 15a. [Pavarotti standard whose name means “My Sunshine”], O SOLE MIO. Holy schnikes! I never pieced that together. I feel smarter because of this clue.
- 24a. [“God created ___ so that Americans would learn geography” (line attributed to Mark Twain)], WAR. Yeah, it didn’t work. A great many Americans are ignorant of geography, no matter how many wars there are.
- 27a. [Like many Christmas traditions], PAGAN. cf. the Christmas tree, the Yule log.
Clunkier bits include ZIP-ON, NEAP, ASEA, RIMA, OBIES.
Overall, four stars from me.
Mark Feldman’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
What a strangely executed theme. I got KOHLMINOR and TAYLORMAID first, and both are exact double homophones and include a former world leader. Then I got CRUZMISSAL, which also has a politician, but, thankfully, not a world leader, and has a less exact homophone. Then I finished with DALILLAMA, well a) DALI is not a politician, though the whole original answer DALILAMA is a quasi-politician; b) it has a much looser phonetic equivalence. Either have four different fields, or one field four times.
Again some really rough fill, but I can’t blame theme density here. MASC over OCTO and then not a suffix IBLE. AMOLE intersects ARME and we have EERO’s friend AALTO. OTYPE remains backwards crossword speak.
That Mark Twain quote reminded me of a cool survey last year – Americans who couldn’t locate North Korea on a map (sadly, 64% of us) were more likely to support military action there.
A three pitch inning is not necessarily a no run inning. A walk-off home run on pitch number three for example.
I was looking at synonyms for “impossible.” A 3 pitch half-inning, yes. Not seeing any way for a full inning taking only 3 pitches, even in the ninth. Though I suppose if the home team were ahead, you could have a 3 pitch top 9 to end the game. I would still consider that just a half inning, but up for debate…
Works for me. I think it’s pretty common, especially when talking about a pitcher, to refer to the pitcher’s half of that inning as just an inning:
“After pitching four scoreless innings, he was tagged for three runs in the fifth.”
He didn’t pitch for both sides, and if his team scored, some of those “full innings” weren’t scoreless.
Not only is it common, it’s the overwhelming norm. People do use the term “half-innings” occasionally, but rarely.
And if there’s any doubt, recall that a regular pitching stat, Innings Pitched (IP), counts “half” innings as just innings.
In other words, the clue was fine (at least to the extent of its use of the word “inning”).
In your scenario, Tom, a pitcher would throw 3 pitches in an inning, but the pitcher would only be credited with 2/3 of an inning pitched (or less). By the same token, you could have a walk-off homer on the first pitch but you probably wouldn’t say the pitcher threw a 1-pitch inning.
They actually do keep track of pitchers with 3-pitch innings. Looks like Walter Johnson holds the record with four of them. The (incomplete) list is here:
It doesn’t say specifically, but I think we can assume all were no-run innings.
Till recently, AFAIK, the minimum number of pitches for a 3-out inning was three. But the no-pitch intentional walk introduced last year changes things. In theory, you could get three outs without a pitch being recorded: 3 IBBs followed by 3 pick-offs, or with additional IBBs you could even have runs scored without a single pitch being thrown. In theory only. Don’t expect ever to see that in a game. Still improbable but more likely, you could see a IBB and DP as part of a 2-pitch, 3-out inning.
I know Amy finds these inside baseball discussions fascinating, but I’m going to have to end this here.
My son Donovan reminds me that outs can be recorded when batters bat out of order. Another scenario to consider.
ooh good point! Although I think colloquially the clue is correct. We wouldn’t say of a pitcher who gave up a walk-off anything on pitch #3 as having pitched a “three-pitch inning”. We’d say, “Craig Kimbrel gave up the winning run after just three pitches.”
While we *would* say “Masahiro Tanaka outdueled Chris Sale last night with three 3-pitch innings in his 8-inning gem.”
Given how Tanaka looked in spring training, I would be thrilled to see even a handful of 8-inning games from him this season.
The SE was tough for me. The rest was pretty easy.
I wonder if TIGER MOM is racist. There was an article I believe in Time some years ago that focussed/focused on Asian heritage mothers. I have tutored perhaps 800 students of Korean heritage, so I am very familiar with the phenomenon. My funniest story involved a woman who clearly had a Brooklyn accent who grilled me for 30 minutes on the phone about how I was going to tutor her son for the SAT. My first thought was that it was really odd that a white New Yorker would be so helicopterish. As it turned out, she was Korean heritage, but had lived almost her whole life in NYC before recently moving to Arizona.
I thought walk-off and game-ending rainstorm for the three-pitch inning, but the clue did not bother me.
Not all racially-linked terms are racist. If “Tiger Mom” proudly used by a lot of Asian and Asian American people, and is not being used here pejoratively or to perpetuate stereotypes, but instead clued to a neutral objective definition, I think it should be fine.
I have never taken offense at the term. On the other hand, in sports, I have never taken offense when an athlete is described as “athletic.” Guess which race that refers to.
I found the Times puzzle to be a delight, particularly the long, colloquial answers. Even the preposterous “zeroth” was kind of fun.
ZEROTH didn’t bother me at all. It crops up in math and physics — the zeroth term of a series, a zeroth order approximation, things of that sort. It has a specific and reasonable meaning. Admittedly it sounds silly to those who are not in the know.
Thanks, David L, I am one who was not in the know. So I was put off by the term. Always nice to learn something.
I had the same question.
I don’t know about Amy, but I do love these discussions about all the nuances of baseball rules. Maybe this isn’t the place for them, but I don’t care.
This year, there’s a new rule that says that no pitches need to be thrown for an intentional walk; the batter is just told to “take your base”. Thus, theoretically, two players can be on base with no pitches having been thrown, and the third player can hit into a triple play on the first pitch – resulting in a one-pitch inning.
Or – batters can reach on an intentional walk and be sequentially picked off first trying to steal – resulting in a no-pitch inning.
Anyway – I, too, really enjoyed the NYT. It was challenging but lots of fun; I loved the clues and the fill. They all seemed unusual to me, but in a very friendly sort of way without being obscure.
Under the new rule, a batter is walked on no pitches. Steals second, steals third.
Next batter comes up, and flies out to right field on the first pitch. Runner scores from third.
Next two batters record outs on the first pitches, respectively.
Three pitches, three outs, one run.
Excellent example! Thank you.
The field of dreams indeed includes deep philosophical discussions of baseball’s nuances and subtleties.
I think these discussions are great. I remember one last summer, I think, that focused on salads: green salads, bean, and other types. It was all fun and respectful. Crosswords not only teach us facts and pop culture, keep the past alive and keep us in the moment, and advance worthy causes, but also spawn discussions from which friendships are formed.
Found the NYT a lot of fun.
CRUZ MISSAL for the win.
re NYT: Yup, I’M A FAN
Until I filled the grid, I was leery of the seemingly duplication in ALLergic, ALLin, and ALLosaurus. ALL good in the end.