Theme - BATTER UP! Three non-baseball-related phrases each end in a word that doubles as a pitch.
17A. White castle offering. HAMBURGER SLIDER. The White Castle SLIDER is a 2 1/2 inch patty served on an equally small bun. Feel free to speculate on etymology in comments. A SLIDER pitch has speed between the curve and fastball speeds. It has lateral movement, but less so than a genuine curve ball. If it doesn't break enough, it is said to be "hanging," Hitters considers these to be gifts.
24A. Gadget for sharing a TV signal: CABLE SPLITTER. Needed if you have more than one TV or signal receiving device. A SPLITTER pitch is thrown using a split-fingered grip and a fast ball delivery. It is a slower pitch, though, similar to a change up. It generally drops and breaks at the plate.
40A. Angler's weight: FISHING SINKER. This is a small weight used along with a lure to increase the rate of sink or casting distance. A SINKER pitch is a genuine fast ball that has both downward and horizontal movement.
And the unifier: 53A. Types of then can be found at the ends of 17-, 24-, and 40-Across. BASEBALL PITCHES. Nice theme - right in tune.
Hi gang, JazzBumpa at the plate. Let's strike out (no - not that way) circle the diamond, and see if this puzzle is a gem.
1. Jaunty tune: LILT. Like this.
5. Desert bloomers: CACTI. Here is a great picture by my virtual friend MMM.
10. They may be on KP: PFC'S. Kitchen Police duty for Privates First Class.
14. Land east of the Urals: ASIA. Not a specific "land," but the entire land mass.
15. Detective Pinkerton: ALLEN. (Correction: ALLAN)
16. Vex: RILE.
20. Wide cigar: ROBUSTO. That makes scents.
21. Drive on a course: TEE OFF. Husker?
22. Look like a wolf: LEER. Not resemble a canis lupus, but observe in the manor of a lady-killer.
23. Yields to gravity: SAGS. I will spare you a link.
29. The U.K.'s Labour, for one: PARTY. Politics, not a joyous gathering.
31. "Leaves of Grass" poet Whitman: WALT. This is a poetry collection that Whitman worked on for much of his adult life.
|WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,|
|And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,|
|I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.|
32. ____ de la Cité: ÎLE. The island in the Seine where the medieval city of Paris was founded. French and a gratuitous obscurity. Bah!
33. "That makes sense.": I SEE. Get it?
34. Becomes frayed, say: WEARS. Showing signs of use? Frayed so.
36. Feds fighting counterfeiting: T-MEN. Agents of the Treasury Dept.
37. Broke a fast. ATE. When I fast, it slows me down.
38. Talk with one's hands: SIGN. Use sign language, not emphasize your spoken words with gestures. When a clue is literal, that makes it tricky.
39. It doesn't hold water: SIEVE. A kitchen strainer that holds the lumps and lets the gravy go down the drain. Two literal clues in a row! Figuratively, an idea or argument that "doesn't hold water" will not stand up to rational criticism. More politics. Let's not go there.
44. Mid-month time: IDES. The most famous occurrence is in March.
45. Not e'en once. NE'ER. Ever and never with the v's elided. Does any real person talk this way?
46. Blue shades: AZURES. AZURE is the color of a bright blue sky. What do you make of the plural?
49. Affirm under oath: SWEAR TO. Hence the phrase, "You lie and I'll swear to it."
56. Opposite of ecto-" ENDO-. Prefixes meaning external and internal, respectively.
57. Monterrey jack: PESOS. Mexican money. Note the lack of capitalization on "jack."
58. "Born in a great steak house" salad dressing. KEN'S. I'm quite fond of the sun-dried tomato.
59. Professor's boss: DEAN. Everybody has a boss, e'en in academia.
60. Confederacy: SOUTH. The Confederate States of America, brought back into the Union by the Civil War. More politics.
61. Starch from a palm: SAGO. Someday I might remember this word.
1. Cowardly Lion portrayer: LAHR. Bert, from The Wizard of Oz.
2. Golfer Aoki: ISAO. Someday I might remember his name.
3. Life partner: LIMB. From the phrase "Life and LIMB," indicating what you put at risk when engaging in reckless activity.
4. Arrange in columns: TABULATE. Only maybe. The Free Dictionary defines TABULATE as "to set out, arrange, or write in tabular form."
5. OPEC is one: CARTEL. An organization of producers whose goals are to set prices and control quantities. A characteristic of the not-so-free market.
6. Climate Reality Project Chairman: AL GORE. Where science meets politics.
7. Cavs on scoreboards: CLE. The Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team.
8. Roofer's supply: TAR. That hot gooey stuff.
9. Sets up, as software: INSTALLS. Hardware, too, come to think of it.
10. One hearing a confession: PRIEST. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned . . .
11. Everypooch: FIDO. The John Doe of the canine world. But shouldn't that be e'erypooch?
12. Curvy music figure: CLEF. Why do I always want to spell this CLEFF? Curvy, indeed! E'en the despised C Clefs.
13. Lord's laborer. SERF. Medieval peasant, bound to the soil. This was not a LABOUR party!
14. Words on a yogurt container. USE BY. I've ne'er understood this. What's it going to do - go good?
19. On the up and up. LEGIT. Two slang terms for honest and respectable.
23. Train between ropes. SPAR. Train in the (square) ring for a boxing match. I don't like it, though. "Between" suggests an intermediate relationship to two points or objects. The ring is bounded by four sets of ropes. Amidst, perhaps, or among? Can this clue be saved?
24. First Nation's members: CREES. First Nations is a Canadian term referring to Native Americans. The CREE people are one such nation. Is the term used here in the States?
25. Cygnet's parents. SWANS. Cygnets are their babies. In other news, Cygnet is a village of about 300 people on I-75 in Wood County, OH, between Bowling Green and Findlay.
26. Kitchen counter: TIMER. Counting the minutes until the cookies are ready. Mom - are they done yet?
27. Alt.: ELEVation. Note abbrvs. Sad to say, this one threw me. I was fixated on "Alt." as "alternative" and couldn't come up with any alternatives.
28. Former Quebec Premier Lévesque: RENE. This one, I knew. More politics, more Canada, more French.
29. "La Vie en Rose" chanteuse: PIAF. This I did not know, but the perps helped. Édith Giovanna Gassion, (1915 - 1961) was a French cultural icon. In the mid 30's, she took the nickname PIAF - a colloquialism for sparrow. What do you think?
30. Sparkling libation of Italy: ASTI. Named for its region of origin, this might as well be the official drink of the cross-word world.
34. Tart, juicy apples: WINESAPS. Great for baking, and one of my favorites for eating. Michigan's fruit crops - apples, pears, and peaches - were at least 90% destroyed this year by the warm April followed by overnight frosts in May. At least the vineyards in the northwestern part of the L. P. were spared.
35. Fabergé collectables: EGGS. Conspicuous consumption. Read all about it. That is quite enough French, merci.
36. Hanging organizers. TIE RACKS, not what is done after an unsuccessful coup.
39. Trapshooting. SKEET. Check it out.
41. Add to the payroll. HIRE ON. Rare occurrence, these days.
42. Place to be. IN SPOT. Hang out there, and maybe you'll SPOT the it girl. On second thought, never mind. Nobody goes there anymore - it's too crowded.
43. Rather recent. NEWISH. The word seems a bit lame-ish.
46. Propped up by pillows, perhaps. ABED. A dreaded a-word, and where I ought to be. Soon . . .
47. Writer Grey. ZANE. Did he ever see things in black and white? He did write Riders of the Purple Sage.
48. Fed. inspection org. : USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
50. Mother of Zeus: RHEA. Zeus had a mother?!? I must have mythed it.
51. 100 C-notes.: TEN G. A G is a thousand dollars - probably from "grand." Do the math.
52. Bologna bone: OSSA. (Correction: The answer is OSSO.) I'm going to be careful here. OSSA is Italian for bone; Bologna is a city in Italy; it all fits.
54. Sign of Summer. LEO. The Zodiac sign containing the latter part of July and most of August. The LW, grandson Nate, and his dad are all LEOS.
55. Shaq's alma mater: LSU. Cager O'Neal attended Louisiana State University. He probably didn't play baseball.
Well, we had a balk and a wild pitch or two, but I'll call this a quality major league effort. Hope you had a good time and stayed until the final out.