Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Off-Day Puzzle #7: Solution

The answer to yesterday's Off-Day Non-Grand Slam Puzzle #7 is Fred Claire, the former Dodgers GM.

The first step in the puzzle is identifying the players. Here are the two lines from the first page, with the white boxes removed:

As mentioned by hint #3, vertical position is relevant. Some of these cards are positioned "low", which indicates to take the last name; others are "high," indicating to take the first name.

Driving off of that, and reading the two lines, you get:

LOWE - JAY - ZAHN - HU - LEE
VIDA - SHAWN(S) - EARL - LEE - WRIGHT

Shawn Green appears twice ("deliberate"), so he gets a plural (only Josh S called that out in his solution; well done!).

Listening to those syllables from those names, in that order, reveals that they sound remarkably similar to the first two lines of Francis Scott Key's "The Star Spangled Banner", sung before every baseball game as the national anthem. To recap, those two correct lines are "O! say can you see / by the dawn's early light". Hints #4 and #5 indicate you should say the list of names aloud, and even sing them (and the puzzle flavortext speaks to "echoes").

And now, for the second page:

Again, the important names on the four cards, as indicated by their vertical position, are:

STAN - DOUG - BROCK - GOETZ - ?

...which corresponds with the national anthem's:

"And the rockets' [red glare]". So we just need to find a Dodger staff member whose name fits "red glare". Noting that the rectangle spans both the top AND bottom positions--one can derive "FRED CLAIRE" as the sound-alike, and the answer to the puzzle.

I will confess that I thought of this puzzle while listening to national anthem and working backwards from the "red glare" / Fred Claire part. Little did I know how difficult the first two lines would be to locate the full list of sound-alike players. Why I didn't think of SANDY Koufax, rather than the forced "STAN - DOUG" in the final line, is beyond me. Special thanks to checkoutmycards.com, the source of all my card photos.

One final point: the puzzle title "Dodgers Staff Member" is designed to be a double entendre on a musical staff. Admittedly, that's a stretch. I know.

Congratulations to J. Steve who narrowly edged out Ubragg for, er, "ubragging" rights. Other correct solvers (as of 11:40p) were, in order: Fanerman, Mr. Customer, and Josh S. Thanks to all who participated, and I hope you enjoyed this puzzle!

Revised PCS rankings out shortly, and set your alarms for the next puzzle, releasing on Monday June 22 at 7a PT!

LLCoolL said...

Geoff Goetz is not on the Marlins' roster in the baseball almanac for 2001, 2002, or 2003. I think he's an imposter. I also noticed that there were a large number of leftys chosen which threw me off for a bit.

Now it all makes sense. I think I had the last name and first name thing at one point but couldn't figure out the link to the National Anthem. Then when the American Idol clue came out, all I could think of was "This puzzle is hard, dog!"

Josh S. said...

Geoff Goetz stumped me too. To find him, I had to use the card site's search filters to get rookie cards from that year and match up the pic.

Steve Sax said...

AMERICAN Idol was another allusion to the key...again, a stretch, I know!

Steve Sax said...

josh S, I wanted to use Leo Getz, but I thought he would have f'd me at the drive-thru.

karina said...

I'm a complete failure! Steve, i wouldn't have guessed this in a million years. The American Idol hint totally killed me.

Fred's Brim said...

This is why I don't participate in these. It would take me hours just to figure out that I have no idea how to figure this out

fanerman said...

Oh, so that's why there are two Shawns.

Mr. Customer said...

Sax,

That explains the flyer I had stuck under my windshield wiper at the game other day. It had photos of Trot Nixon, Jae Seo, Steve Howe, Luis Gonzales, John Hale, Manny Acta, Ty Wigginton, Gabe White, Gary Rath, Sid Bream, and Brandon Inge. I think it might be the one of the sheets you were missing.

Steve Sax said...

Shee-oot, Mr. Customer. I should have had you do this puzzle.

Not that I'm whining, but this puzzle was a hell of a lot easier on paper than it was to execute. I was surprised how many baseball players don't have cards (as well as how many other baseball players have too many cards).

Hong Like a Chih Kuo said...

This has nothing to do with the puzzles (which I suck at, and have stopped trying to solve), but if you hate Joe Buck as much as me, this will have you rolling on the floor.

Here's Artie Lang destroying Mr. Buck on his own show

Mr. Customer said...

Sax,

It's amazing what you can come up with staring at the ceiling at 1:30 in the morning.

berkowit28 said...

Posted in the old thread by mistake:

I am glad that I did not have the time yesterday to spend on this, as I would never have got it in a million years either, Karina. As I'm pretty new to the Dodgers and don't know players, or what they look like, from the 70s, 80s, 90s, I soon realized I was never going to get the player names, probably not even with more time for research than I had.

But even if I had got them, and figured out the first name-last name thing from the vertical position, that would have been it. I can't begin to imagine how anyone thought of these names "sounding like" the words of the national anthem.

May I ask the winners how they thought of that? Just popped into your head(s), just like that? Did any of the clues or hints put you on the right track? How?

Mr. Customer said...

Berko,

The hardest part for me was actually browsing through pages and pages of baseball cards at the office. I'm not sure the boss would approve.

Once I had all the players, the Brock-Goetz pairing was the give away.

fanerman said...

I thought the blue blocks were confusing because I wasn't sure if I should be looking at the first or last names (if that was the point of the blue blocks at all). When the hint said to say things out loud, I kinda figured that the meaning must have been from all the names together (and not due to a "link" from one name to the other). Then I just started mumbling it to myself.

2 hours and the loss of my sanity later, I had the epiphany.

Josh S. said...

berkowit28: I knew from the echoes clue that it had something to do with the sound of the names. Before I stumbled upon the first name/last name thing, I thought I recognized something familiar when I would say "Lowe...Jay". I kept getting sidetracked into trying to make it fit into "Do Re Mi, etc.". The American Idol clue gave me the idea to try to listen for an existing song in the pattern. Once I heard a little bit of The Star Spangled Banner, all the pieces fell into place, including the rationale behind the positioning of the cards.

berkowit28 said...

Well, I'm impressed.

I'm not American (Canadian, and lived many years in England), so I don't know more than the first line of your national anthem - up to "early light". (I know the tune quite well...) The chances of my catching the sound or rhythm of the words of just that much has got to be zero, I think. I would have assumed it was my popular culture gap showing, expecting a pop song (I don;t know any) if I had even guessed that's what the clues meant.

The American Idol hint would have finished me off, as I would have taken it as a confirmation of the pop song thing. (I haven't watched American Idol either. Do lots of contestants sing the national anthem as their number, and chance at immortal fame? Really?? Wow.)

J. Steve said...

For me, I figured the blue bars were signaling first or last, but couldn't tell whether I should look at the card's or the bar's placement until I sounded it out. For me, it was "Shawn-Earl-Lee-Wright," especially the "Earl-Lee-Wright." (I missed the "s" on "Shawn" - I tried saying "Shawn" twice, which was obviously wrong.)

As for the cards, I did some browsing on the web page. I have way too much knowledge about what year's cards look like, so that helped narrow things down.

Sax - I'm surprised you didn't go with "Jose Offerman" or DanGarion's thought of "Jose Gonzalez" for the beginning of the song. It may have actually made it easier. With that, I'll stop being a Monday morning QB...

Steve Sax said...

J Steve, I thought of that, but I thought if I led with "jose" it would be too easy to derive the star spangled banner...