These are the kind of sports clues even I can get!
The three theme answers are plays on the names of well-known stars, all clued as sports-related puns.
20A: Game equipment for an old sitcom star? (Lucille's ball).
35A: Game location for an actress? (Sally's field).
52A: Game site for a popular singer? (Neil's diamond).
Not a particularly exciting theme...but until I construct a puzzle myself and see all the work that it entails, I'm not about to criticize one that's been completed AND published in the New York Times. Instead, I'm more likely to focus on what I found to like (and sometimes flat out admire) in a puzzle.
The only word I didn't know was 24A: Organic salt (oleate), but it was easy to get from pretty fine crosses, all words you don't often see in a puzzle.
6D: Faithfulness (fidelity). A very important word in relationships...all of them.
7D: Licoricelike flavor (anise). My favorite hard candy flavor, although it's often hard to find.
8D: Hand-to-hand fighting (combat) and 9D: 8-Down ender (treaty).
An expression I remembered from my days as a paralegal is 42D: A __ (kind of reasoning) (priori).
Other good fill:
2D: Prefix with suppressive (immuno).
29D: Go all out (splurge). My prescription for happiness...do something for others (besides your spouse and/or children) every day, but splurge on yourself at least once a week. This could include going to a spa (38D: Place for a mud bath). It's a fact (6A: Fiction's opposite)...a mud bath is an excellent use of an hour or two.
45D: Bellyache (grouse) reminds me that I did that too often this week. It really doesn't get me anywhere.
50D: Winston Churchill flashed it (V-sign). Thankfully, this wasn't an R-rated answer. I mean, the thought of Winston Churchill flashing anything else is just...not something I want to imagine.
We have two Bible words in this puzzle. 23A: Son of Seth (Enos) and 49A: Carved, as an image (graven). Those Old Testament folks were warned not to worship graven images, but that didn't stop them. It really ticked God off. I'm not telling the end of the story...you need to read it yourself.
It made me laugh to see 58A: When repeated, classic song with the lyric "Me gotta go" (Louie). We used to think the lyrics were so bad. Actually, what was bad was what we thought they were saying!
It's nice to see a Pantheon favorite make another appearance. 57A: Mélange (olio). I don't remember if Isis is in the Pantheon...she appears at 59A, clued as Rainbow goddess. [Update: Thanks to profphil for pointing out that the rainbow goddess is Iris. See comment for detail on Isis. That makes the down cross ERA, rather than ESA...what Donald called Earned Strike-out Average!]
My favorite word in the puzzle is 38A: Major mix-up (snafu). Situation normal, all fouled up...or however you choose to say it.
We had a very enjoyable dinner with Elaine and her new boyfriend, Mike. He's a likeable young man with impeccable manners, a strong work ethic, and an obvious devotion to our daughter. I'm a believer in love at first sight, but falling in love is the easy part...staying in love is the challenge. I hope they're equal to the task.
Here's the completed grid... [ISIS/ESA should be IRIS/ERA as noted above.]
...and I'll see you tomorrow.