Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Off-Day Puzzle #4: Solution

Best thing this season involving Juan Pierre was the answer to yesterday's puzzle.

Here are the details:

  1. Madden’s choice of travel / An unexpected addition (BUS, BONUS) (ON)
  2. Humbug predecessor / Cookie grouping (BAH, BATCH) (TC)
  3. Simple bed / Sesame’s vampire (COT, COUNT) (UN)
  4. Signal to start / Offensive word (CUE, CURSE) (RS)
  5. Child’s pillow construction / Tidwell’s service (FORT, FOREST) (ES)
  6. 5-time Wimbledon champ / Drill’s task (BORG, BORING) (IN)
  7. Engine’s energy drink / Potentially hazardous cloud (FUEL, FUNNEL) (NN)
  8. Beast of burden / Your heart is one (MULE, MUSCLE) (SC)
  9. Expires / Current instabilities (DIES, EDDIES) (ED)
  10. Mayweather’s workplace / Fired up (RING, RARING) (AR)
  11. To smudge / Where chads hang (BLOT, BALLOT) (AL)
  12. 63,360 inches / Comparative figure of speech (MILE, SIMILE) (SI)
  13. Interjection for Yorick / Eucalyptus eaters (ALAS, KOALAS) (KO)
  14. Famous Christian / To perplex (BALE, BAFFLE) (FF)
  15. Hefty Giant’s nickname / Top grosser’s setting (PANDA, PANDORA) (OR)
  16. Butcher’s tubmate / More depressing (BAKER, BLEAKER) (LE)
  17. Furious / Thankless one (IRATE, INGRATE) (NG)
  18. Person of authority / Effective handler (ELDER, WIELDER) (WI)
  19. Jobs’ job / Contest for superiority (APPLE, GRAPPLE) (GR)
  20. Casual affair / What Cronin can’t fight (FLING, FEELING) (EE)
  21. Zero / Beer on tap (AUGHT, DRAUGHT) (DR)
  22. “Community” Spanish teacher / Runner’s irritation (CHANG, CHAFING) (FI)

Arrange the letter pairs to form:
Scored winning run on Dre’s first career walkoff single.

Answer: Juan Pierre (5/25/08)

Thanks Josh for another stellar reader puzzle, and a particularly difficult one, it seems. And congratulations to the select few solvers (a season-low nine): UBragg, Fanerman, Keven C, Golem, Mr C, J Steve, Jason, Dusty Baker, and Nicholas. Rankings to be posted soon.

Next Puzzle: Monday, May 24, 7am!


LLCoolL said...

Another 10 or 15 hours and I would have had it. There were only 1.21e21 possible letter combinations.

LLCoolL said...

Oh, and Ubragg, the NSA called. They have a few questions for you.

Nostradamus said...

Would have had it so much sooner if I would have had the right walk-off.

Kyle Baker said...

Glad my brain has 20 days to rest and regenerate.

Wait, brain cells down't regenerate, right? Uh oh.

Golem said...

That was a serious challenge. Not having any "external" ordering for the bigrams (such as, e.g. alphabetically by clue) made this significantly trickier. Knowing there was a baseball theme was the only way I was able to put it together (finding words like "score", "run", "single", "walk-off", etc.) Having the wrong answer for (WI)ELDER - I had RU(ST)LER - also slowed things down a lot, since I couldn't get "winning".

The research half KILLED me, though. Where do people go to get that sort of obscure trivia? (Or, to a true Dodgers fan, is that fact just well-known?!?)

Josh S. said...

I hope nobody hates me too much now.

Oh, and I want to thank Golem for teaching me the word "bigram", which, for some reason, I had never come across before. That's going in the file for future use!

Josh S. said...

My original puzzle idea was built around the Ethier action figure and involved superhero clues, but I ended up scrapping it. I always had a solution involving his walk-offs, because I figured it would be more or less easy to find info about them, seeing as there had only been 10 total.

I used baseball-reference.com to find the info I needed, but it was tricky to work around the fact that they make you subscribe to get certain specific info.

Just know that I needed to do just as much research as you guys did to find the final answer.

Josh S. said...

Golem, I tried really hard to find an organic way to place the letter pairs, but I couldn't quite do it. I actually thought finding the word pairs would be too easy, so I made assembling the secret clue difficult.

Golem said...

Josh, forgive my manners - this was a really excellent puzzle! Didn't mean to sound kvetchy about the difficulty. I fully appreciate how hard it is to construct these sort of puzzles within very narrow contraints.

Hope to see more of your creations on off-days soon!

Josh S. said...

Oh no, I don't mind at all. I was really quite curious how it looked from the other side. I didn't get the chance to test it on anyone before submitting it to the Sons.

Steve Sax said...

Josh S: I like the superhero idea. A lot. Could you send me an email on what you were thinking, if you wouldn't mind us (potentially) picking up that direction for another puzzle?

MR.F said...

I had Rustler, too, at first. I ended up re-arranging the pairs first and later realized that I needed the "WI" to spell "winning" as opposed to "ST" which spelled... nothing.

I figured out elder/wielder from there.

MR.F said...

I also did not know how to find Dre's first walk-off single. I had to do a fairly complicated Baseball-Reference search and look through box scores one by win (home game wins where Ethier gets at least 1 single and 1 RBI). Was there an easier way?

Nostradamus said...


Believe it or not, I finally found the 2008 Walk-off info here at SoSG in a game thread comment by Sax.

MR.F said...

Obviously, I meant "one by one."

Steve Sax said...

@Mr C: How did you find that reference on SoSG? Do tell.

Nostradamus said...


Search box thingy:

"first walk off ethier"

1st result.

Josh S. said...

Baseball Reference > Andre Ethier > Batting > Finders > Events > RBI

It tells you how many game-ending RBI per season. I knew he had 10 total: 1 this year, and 6 last year. The site told me he had 0 in '06 and '07. That meant the first three were all in '08. You have to pay to see which games the RBI happened in, but it was pretty easy to deduce from the scores on the home schedule. (And because I knew he had two of them fairly close together in the second half and that those were his last two of that season.)

If only I had known it was as easy as searching this very site.

Nostradamus said...


All the cool kids will be doing my puzzle next week. It's useless to resist.

Nostradamus said...


I certainly got back to the game thread by a roundabout method, but I found it amusing.

Josh S. said...

Interesting that Sax even phrased it as "first career walk-off hit", which is how I had it phrased at one point during the creation process.

Josh S. said...

From that same thread:

"Orel said...

Baseball Reference rules!"

Heh. How circular. I should have worked that GT into my puzzle somehow.

Dusto_Magnifico said...

yeah, Job's Job> apple... I guess I'm still lost there. Infact I even got my wife on it late last night for one last ditch effort. Even she had a hard time with it and she is smart!

Kyle Baker said...


Always a great idea to have a smarter wife. Has worked out well for me!

@Mr. C re your puzzle-

The cool kids are going to do it? Wow. Can I do it, too?

Kyle Baker said...


No kidding! What did Ubragg do, have NSA re-direct Carnivore bandwidth to help solve the puzzle?

cc: Ubragg

MR.F said...

Steve Jobs. Apple computers.

Nostradamus said...


I guess I can give you special dispensation;-)

Bryan said...

Wow, I wasn't even close on the ones i was stuck on. Well, I had apple but because of an ill-timed commercial on TV, all I could think of was snapple.

Even if i had the letters, I'm not even sure i could have put it together. I was hoping for a temporary case of dyslexia to come and magically arrange the letters for me.

Great puzzle, way too hard for me but it was definitely fun.

Steve K said...

Mr F: I did the same thing you did, except with one stipulation you didn't mention - the home win had to be by one run.

Kyle Baker said...

I neglected to point out how knowing Josh (specifically, his "style" and sense of humour) helped me with solving the puzzle. For instance, on "Famous Christian" I figured it would either be "Luke" as a reference to his son or a play where it wasn't a Christian in the pray-to-get-to-heaven sense but a reference to some comic book/superhero kind of person like, well Christian Bale. So I was helped by that bias.

Now if I can just get Will Shortz to start commenting on SoSG then maybe I can nail down NY Times crosswords easier.