Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Going Head-to-Head”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upHappy Memorial Day weekend, everyone! My dad served in the Korean War; if he were alive today I wonder what he would think of what is going on there now? Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and more peaceful times are ahead. Anyway, I digress-we are looking for a sports statistic this week and we have five theme entries, all including the name of a baseball team:
- 16a. [Doesn’t buckle under pressure], BRAVES THE STORM – Atlanta; Gary and I enjoy how Vermont is often referred to as the “brave little state.” The nearby town of Vergennes is called “the little city” as well; do you think we have a complex about our size?
- 21a. [Electron beams], CATHODE RAYS – Tampa Bay; this entry reminds me of the faintly glowing green CRTs of my young adulthood. We had to turn them off or the image would burn into the screen!
- 38a. [Two-part Tony-winning play revived on Broadway], ANGELS IN AMERICA – Los Angeles; for some reason, I was thinking this was in three parts, but perhaps I was thinking about Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy instead.
- 53a. [Woodland crew], PARK RANGERS – Texas
- 58a. [They’re qualified to captain any merchant vessel], MASTER MARINERS – Seattle; say what?
So the obvious next step is to concatenate the first letters of all the teams’ locations; I wasn’t sure if I should use both the TB of Tampa Bay and the LA of Los Angeles, but neither approach seem to work well, as you get ATBLATS or ATLTS depending on which method you use. The former is very close to “at bats,” which is a sports (and appropriately, baseball) statistic, so I wondered if there was a way to get an A for the Angels that was consistent with the other entries.
I thought more about the title and wondered if perhaps the last names of the managers (“heads”) of the teams might be helpful, but after a few minutes researching them on the web, I couldn’t develop a pattern. I went back to the “atblats” again and tried to focus on how to get an “a” from LA and thought perhaps the “heads” in the title were actually the insignia on the caps the players wear. Here are the lids in order:
(I’m assuming that this “new era” version of the Rays’ cap wasn’t intended for this meta.) . So reading from left to right, AT BATS seems to be what Matt was aiming for after all. I liked how the meta was a bit more complicated than just recognizing the team names in the theme entries, especially with the use of that “TB” in a baseball-related term.
I’ll close with my favorite clue, [Hope you can laugh at] for BOB. Nice one!