There are, in fact, 25 pairs of alphabetically consecutive letters.
I doubt that many solvers “got” the theme and made use of it while filling in the grid. (It’s possible, of course, but that would probably involve the somewhat tedious process of searching for the ordered clues and solving them in that order.) A theme that you’re expected to discover after the main puzzle has been completed is called a “meta.” Metas are very popular and are regular features of some crossword series. The Friday crossword in The Wall Street Journal is always a meta-theme contest.
Sometimes, metas are the theme, as with this puzzle. Other times they are “extras,” where the puzzle has an obvious theme and the meta is a bonus. I think those are especially elegant.
Interesting meta or “constructor’s crossword”? What do you think?
It may solve like a themeless, but this puzzle has fairly easy cluing, for the most part. Easy for a Wednesday, I thought.
6A: Those plastic boxes are called “jewel cases.”
9A: CAVA means “hollow” in Latin, which is odd since all veins are hollow. We have two venae cavae.
16A: You don’t drink bay rum. You splash it on, hence the entry AFTER SHAVE. It’s originally from St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is suffering badly from hurricane Irma.
26A: The Green Monster is a wall, which Red Sox and visiting hitters have to clear to hit a home run in that part of FENWAY.
46A: American League teams use designated hitters to BAT in the places of their delicate pitchers. “Normally,” because when playing a National League team (as in the World Series) in the N.L. park they play by N.L. rules and have to hit.
58A: LYS or “lis” are both correct. I start with L_S, until I can figure out whether I need to put in a Y or an I.
62A: The BMW X SERIES consists of their SUVs.
67A: ADES are drinks like lemonade, orangeade and limeade. At least in crosswords.
2D: The NATO alphabet begins with ALFA, not “alpha” as many people presume. It uses simplified spellings so that it will be easy to learn, from documents by people who are not native English speakers. You’d hate to have a near miss in the air because someone said, “alp-hah.”
7D: On initial reading, I thought this clue was about blaming your kid brother, “Mom, he made me do it!” But it’s not that kind of DEVIL.
14D: Vengeful KHAN has spawned a meme. This is not…