Theme: "PLAY BALL!"
7 Down. Diamond deception found in this grid nine times: eight in square four-letter clusters, the ninth formed by the clusters' outline : HIDDEN BALL TRICK. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a couple examples of the play...done to the same player!
BA sits atop
LL in each cluster, and I have highlighted them in fuchsia below. My grid did not have circles, did yours? If you connect all of the clusters, they resemble a ball sitting in the grid. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but the diagonal blocks sort of resemble the stitching on the baseball, don't they?
Other gratuitous baseball references at 37-Down. Two-bagger: Abbr. : DBL. Double. and 40-Down. Giant slugger : OTT. Mel Ott, who played his entire career for the NY Giants, and now is retired to his home in crosswords.
Marti here, getting more baseball savvy with each puzzle I blog.
1. Vicious with a bass : SID. Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols.
4. "That's gotta hurt" : OUCH. (...said the bass.)
8. It's close to 90 : B PLUS. Fun clue!
13. XL piece: Abbr. : LGE. Xtra Large.
14. Visitor-friendly Indonesian island : BALI. Travel + Leisure voted it "Best Island" in 2010.
15. ___ Mama: rum drink : BAHAMA. An adult Icee!
16. Voided : ANNULLED.
18. Woolly beasts : LLAMAS.
19. Kelly who voiced Nala in "The Lion King" : MOIRA. And 35 Down. Prideful place? : LIONS DEN.
20. "Ooky" family name : ADDAMS. They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're all together ooky...
22. Financial degs. : MBAs. Master of Business Administration (s)
23. Prayer supports? : KNEES.
24. Its four-color logo no longer has overlapping letters : EBAY.
28. First name in jazz : ELLA.
29. Spotty coverage? : ACNE.
30. Canvasses : POLLS.
31. In medias ___ : RES. "In the middle of things." A device found in movies and literature where the story starts in the middle or even end of the action, and then goes back to fill in from the beginning using flashbacks.
32. Re-entry request : STUB.
33. Spot for many a curio : MANTEL.
34. Solo : GO IT ALONE.
36. Hold fast : ADHERE.
39. Twist in a gimlet : LIME.
43. Ebb : ABATE.
44. Latch (onto) : GLOM. Love that word!
45. Letter-shaped brace : L-BAR.
46. "___ vostra salute!": Italian toast : ALLA. "To your health!"
47. Cigna rival : AETNA. Insurance rivals.
48. Fashion monthly : ELLE.
49. Takes the spread, e.g. : WAGERS.
51. Ethiopia's Selassie : HAILE. His family traditionally traces its origins back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Today, he is revered as the messiah by Rastafarians.
52. Winter melon : CASABA.
55. Items that can open doors : ID BADGES. Cute clue!
57. "___ never know what hit 'em!" : THEY'LL.
58. 1-Down unit : CELL. And 1-Down. Clink : SLAMMER.
59. That, in Tijuana : ESA.
60. Fresh : SASSY.
61. Boy Scout's handiwork : KNOT.
62. Additive sold at Autozone : STP. "Scientifically Treated Petroleum." The racer's edge.™
2. Not virtuous : IGNOBLE.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
"Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard."
3. Some kneejerk responses : DENIALS.
4. Beatles song syllables : OB-LA.-Di, Ob-La-Da.
5. Delta rival: Abbr. : UAL. United Airlines. and 12-Across. Stockholm flier : SAS. Now Scandinavian Airlines, it was previously Scandinavian Airlines System.
6. Freshly groomed : CLEAN-CUT. I think of "clean-cut" as someone who is neat in appearance all the time, not just fresh from the barber's.
8. Burt's Bees product : BALM.
9. Startup segment : PHASE ONE.
10. Skedaddle : LAM.
11. Actress Thurman : UMA. "Kill Bill:Volume 2" is a good example of In Medias Res.
15. Hugo's "Ruy ___" : BLAS. The title character is an indentured commoner who is in love with the queen, and becomes the pawn in a cruel hoax by a suitor she had scorned.
17. Nocturnal bear : URSA. One of the dippers in the sky at night. Major or Minor.
21. Wallace of "E.T." : DEE. She played the mother. Did not remember her.
23. In an arranged swap, she guest-hosted "The Tonight Show" in 2003 on the same day Jay guest hosted "The Today Show" : KATIE. Couric and Leno. This clue was so long that when I first glanced at it, I thought it was the reveal for the theme!
25. Tripart sandwich : BLT. I stared at the clue and wondered what kind of drugs would be in a TRIP ART sandwich?
26. Newcastle specialty : ALE.
27. French designer's inits. : YSL. Yves St. Laurent.
30. French door part : PANE. I was looking for a french word, like "jambage" ou "seuil." But nope, just the pane of glass in a French door. I'm sitting here looking at two of them. Duh!
32. Nursing a grudge : SORE.
33. Family nickname : MOMMA. I remember...
34. Vacation spots : GETAWAYS.
36. Org. with towers : AAA. Tow-trucks, that is. American Automobile Association.
38. Laurel & Hardy producer Roach : HAL. He also produced "Of Mice and Men."
40. Accommodates : OBLIGES.
41. Guinness superlative : TALLEST. Book of records, not the tallest beer!
42. Syrup source : TREE SAP. We just had this entry in Patti Varol's Monday April Fool puzzle, Strange to see it again so soon!
44. "Golly!" : GEE.
45. Pb is its symbol : LEAD.
47. "(I've Got ___ in) Kalamazoo" : A GAL. The inimitable Glen Miller. 3:20
50. With proficiency : ABLY.
51. "Red light!" : HALT.
52. Nos. not on some restaurant menus : CTS. Cents. Some restaurants don't even put the dollars on their menus.
53. "Got it!" : AHA.
54. His, in Honfleur : SES. "Son" also fits. Just sayin'...
56. Rain-___: bubble gum brand : BLO. And so we come full circle, ending with a bunch of balls.