Nine Of Diamonds

New York Times crossword July 24 / Constructed by Kurt Mueller

Looks like America’s favorite pastime has made a guest appearance in Will Shortz’s favorite pastime.

Today’s puzzle is filled with baseball references — nine of them, in fact, as you might have guessed from the title “Nine of Diamonds.” Yet these phrases that we’ve all heard a million times from the broadcast booth take on punny new meanings in this grid.

BOX SCORES are not those agate charts in the sports section but “Cuts in a cardboard container” (23 Across). And BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH doesn’t refer to an inning but to “Whiskey bottle dregs” (98 Across).

Others: “Yelled initially?” is CALLED OUT AT FIRST (31 Across); “So-so formal dance?” is a FAIR BALL (44 Across); “Went far too slowly during the 10K?” is WALKED IN A RUN (46 Across); “Piece of black-market playground equipment?” is SWING FOR THE FENCES (63 Across); “Wool or cotton purchase request?” is BATTING ORDER (83 Across); “Disgusting advice?” is FOUL TIPS (85 Across); and a “Nobleman after a banquet?” is a FULL COUNT (113 Across).

Extra Innings Dept.: Three other clues had baseball terminology even if they technically weren’t theme answers (or even referring to the sport): “Hits and runs” are STATS (120 Across); “Pitcher part” is a LIP (32 Down); and “Result of a pitch, perhaps” is a SALE (38 Down).

Philadelphia Shout-Out Dept.: Speaking of baseball, I am unable to watch my beloved Phillies — and am instead getting a weekend full of Red Sox — because I am up on the CAPE (“Beach site, maybe,” 40 Across). That would be Cape Cod, and while it is definitely a beach site, we did mini-golf and the batting cages today since it was overcast with sprinkles. Still, seeing as how it’s been triple digits in Philly for the past couple of days, I’m not complaining.

Trademark and Copyright Dept.: ASCAP may be one “Org. fighting pirates?” (4 Across), but Apple had the piracy story of the week. China apparently has created a few completely fake Apple stores. Yes, stores. The whole shebang. Wow.

Johnny Be Good Dept.: “What George Washington purportedly could not do” is TELL A LIE (102 and 86 Down). Along those same lines, “Words following see, hear and speak” are NO EVIL (91 Down).

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