THEME: Baseball names in non-baseball contexts — familiar phrases where final word happens to be name of a Major League Baseball team
Fastest puzzle of the year. I'm waist-deep in baseball right now (wallowing, mostly, as my Red Sox are doing their best to suck worse than any team has sucked in the history of sucking right now). But even if I hadn't been a fan, this puzzle would have been easy. The only issue is XIAN (18A: Central Chinese tourist city) — a total outlier in a puzzle full of otherwise utterly familiar stuff. We should develop a program that will show just how much of the fill in any given puzzle has shown up in our Crosswordese 101 segment before. Feels like a lot today, though possibly no more than your typical Monday puzzle. Could've done without the ESSEN / ESSES pair, and YEOW is not an intuitive spelling for me, but otherwise, it was a fine, inoffensive puzzle.
- 20A: San Francisco players not paying attention? (SLEEPING GIANTS)
- 25A: Minnesota players from old Bangkok? (SIAMESE TWINS)
- 49A: Anaheim players tripping over their own feet? (FALLEN ANGELS)
- 57A: Pittsburgh players from old Algiers? (BARBARY PIRATES)
Don't like that two of these have the "from old [somewhere]" in the clue. Make all clues follow same wording, or let them all be different, but don't give two the same wording and the others something else. Feels sloppy and uneven. Also, BARBARY PIRATES, while an acceptable phrase, certainly isn't as coherent and snappy and familiar as the others. I know BARBARY COAST. I just inferred BARBARY from crosses, and got PIRATES from the clue.
Crosswordese 101: ENUF (32D: A sufficient amount, in slang) — the crossword loves its variants of "enough." There's this one, which is super stupid and is used only in *written* "slang" (where, exactly, I don't know — advertisements and crappy band names, probably); and then there's the higherbrow ENOW — a poetic, bygone, Shakespearean version of the same thing. If Shakespeare had tweeted, he'd have used ENUF. Otherwise, like any sensible person, he'd have stayed the hell away from it. "'NUFF said." (an expression I hate worse than almost any other)
- 36A: Artist M.C. known for illusionary work (ESCHER) — tearing through this puzzle, I had ESCHE- and confidently dropped a "W" in that slot without ever looking at the clue. Mistake.
- 9D: Mötley Crüe duo? (UMLAUTS) — by now, you should be seeing straight through tricks like this.
- 29D: Chain restaurant with a blue roof (IHOP) — went there just yesterday, where wife got the saddest, limpest, palest excuse for a waffle ever. Boooo. Too bad I can't stay made at IHOP. I just love it too much. I love it from back when it had a kangaroo mascot. I am an IHOP NERD (nice juxtaposition).
- 53A: Word in an oxymoronic Michael J. Fox movie title (FUTURE) — as in "Back to the." I was thinking "what's oxymoronic about 'Doc Hollywood' or 'Teen Wolf'?"
See you Friday,
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