Theme: Baseball! — Theme answers are phrases about baseball clued as non-baseball-related idioms.
- 20A: Completely unexpected (OUT OF LEFT FIELD). Had a hard time seeing this one because I was stuck on "out of the blue."
- 28A: Fail to get a job done (DROP THE BALL).
- 45A: Be super-successful (HIT A HOME RUN).
- 53A: From day one (RIGHT OFF THE BAT).
Apologize in advance for the quick write-up today. I'm traveling home with the kids and then it's going to be a crazy week: filling in for Orange here and at her blog, taking the kids downtown hoping to get a glimpse of the American Idols, then sending them off to New Mexico to spend some quality time with PuzzleMother-In-Law. Oh and then there's that work that I actually get paid for. Not sure when I'll be able to fit that in.
Luckily, it was an easy, breezy puzzle today. On early-week puzzles I generally just go through the acrosses first and then the downs. Today I knocked off the first four acrosses with no problem and then hit MOLTO (15A: __ vivace: quite lively, on scores), which is a word I've actually seen, but I couldn't come up with it quickly so I waited for the crosses. I also had to pause for a quick second at 37A: Wheel shaft to remember Rex's mnemonic for recalling the difference between AXLE and axel. Like the APEX ambiguity, I also had to wait for crosses on ENTS (51A: Tolkien tree creatures), which I always get confused with orcs; OLAF (7D: Norway's patron saint), which is sometimes spelled Olav; ONE-A (55D: Top draft status), which I always think could be a-one but never is; and ZIG (60D: Make a sharp turn), which could just has easily have been zag.
- 38A: Yesterday, to Juan (AYER). Is this a common Spanish word? I knew it, but I've been hanging out in a Spanish-speaking country for the last two weeks.
- 49A: Tandoori bread (NAN). I do not like this spelling but I understand that I'm not in charge of this.
- 65A: Sixth Jewish month (ADAR). A four-letter Jewish month is almost always going to be Adar. Except when it's Elul.
- 5D: "Epitaph for a Spy" author Eric (AMBLER). Never heard of him.
- 6D: "West Side Story" Oscar winner Rita (MORENO). Love her.
- 54D: "Othello" conniver (IAGO). I don't know what it is about Iago, but I always enjoy seeing him in the puzzle.
Everything Else — 1A: CEOs' degrees (MBAS); 5A: In the midst of (AMONG); 10A: Pull up stakes (MOVE); 14A: Dismounted (ALIT); 17A: Casino numbers game (KENO); 18A: Oater saloon fight (BRAWL); 19A: Leafy green that's high in vitamin K (KALE); 23A: Part of a hammer (PEEN); 24A: Many AARP members (SRS); 25A: Speedster at JFK, once (SST); 34A: Halloween witches' blemishes (WARTS); 36A: Brazilian hot spot (RIO); 39A: Barely enough (SCANT); 41A: Muslim leader (IMAM); 42A: Spicy Asian cuisine (THAI); 43A: Tam or bowler (HAT); 44A: Crockett's last stand (ALAMO); 50A: Still in the package (NEW); 60A: Fanatic's feeling (ZEAL); 61A: "... bombs bursting __" (IN AIR); 62A: Martial arts school (DOJO); 63A: "Bus Stop" playwright (INGE); 64A: __ Park: Edison lab site (MENLO); 66A: Old Pontiac muscle cars (GTOS); 67A: Lightened up (EASED); 68A: First in the waiting line (NEXT); 1D: Powerful shark (MAKO); 2D: __ cheese dressing (BLEU); 3D: "__ Misbehavin'" (AIN'T); 4D: Hunch over (STOOP); 8D: Food package amt. (NT. WT.); 9D: Pitch or chip (GOLF SHOT); 10D: Puts up get-out-of-jail money (MAKES BAIL); 11D: Autumn birthstone (OPAL); 12D: South African grassland (VELD); 13D: Program file suffix (EXE); 21D: T-men and G-men (FEDS); 22D: Anger (IRE); 25D: Strip of mowed grass (SWATH); 26D: Greet casually, with "to" (SAY HI); 27D: Halloween goody (TREAT); 29D: Babble on and on (PRATE); 30D: Metal in solder (TIN); 31D: Forest feller (AXMAN); 32D: Camel cousin (LLAMA); 33D: Car for which a law is named (LEMON); 35D: Sources of romantic conflict (TRIANGLES); 39D: When the curtain rises (SHOWTIME); 40D: Web video gear, for short (CAM); 44D: Lit. collection (ANTH.); 46D: Half an evil laugh (HEH); 47D: Submit an amended 1040 (REFILE); 48D: Having no paths or trails (UNTROD); 52D: Roomy auto (SEDAN); 53D: Patronize Hertz, say (RENT); 56D: Bleacherites, e.g. (FANS); 57D: Be an omen of (BODE); 58D: "Foaming cleanser" of old ads (AJAX); 59D: Legal wrong (TORT).