First of all, I'll say that I didn't start the code until five days after it started. I got a quick start, as the first step was pretty straight forward, an alpha-numeric decoding that sorted out pretty nicely in Excel. Read right to left, top of column to bottom. See picture below, which also include what I used to track and decipher the next couple of steps as well. I'll explain those after the pic.
I wrote out the message from the original code on lines 29 and 30. Directly below that are the answers to the 14 questions that Mike posted here. In column Y, I put in the underlined letter from each of the questions. This spelled out IMVTLNWSAP, which descrambled to TWINS AL MVP so I emailed Joe Mauer to Mike, which led me to the next level of the code. Keep the data in the bottom left corner in mind for the next step...
Now this is where I got a little bit off the true track, as Mike sent a code as well as a PDF which would be explained by the code. I was at work during this so I looked at the PDF and immediate noticed a few words that really stood out to me. As a big fan of "Casey At The Bat" by Ernest Thayer, I knew that the poem was in there, just didn't know how.
The big word that stuck out to me was "violence", and doing a CTRL+F search for that word in the poem, I found it in the next to last stanza. I crossed it off, then started crossing off every word in the second to last stanza, was left with a sizeable amount of words left over. That's when I noticed the word "somewhere" listed a few times, and went to crossing out words in the last stanza. That left me with the data I told you to remember in the lower left corner of the Excel sheet. Of course that's after I groups them together into something intelligible. You can still go to 2010wildcode.blogspot.com and check out the photo I was presented with. (You'll see I'm a follower of the blog, but I wasn't the first so I was a bit worried I was behind). I e-mailed Mike that I had gotten that far and he informed me that I was to determine which of the 21 cards pictured didn't belong.
This is where it all started to fall apart for me. I'll tell you now that I just got this part of the puzzle solved TODAY, November 16th and I had gotten to this point on October 20th! I fired off about 10 guesses over the next couple of days, and in hind sight it's amazing how far off I was. The only clue Mike gave me to start with was to look north of the border, which indicated Aaron Hill of the Toronto Blue Jays was the place to start. I had no idea what I was looking for. As it turns out, I had started down the right path at one point, mistakenly thought it wasn't right and quit on it. Anyways, after about a week and a half of trying to solve it I knew that the more I looked at it, the more frustrated I would get. In the comments on the code page, you can get a feel of my frustration! I kept an eye on the regular blog for any updates/clues or notification that it was solved. I saw earlier this week that Mike posted another clue and thought I should try again, asked for a clarification and started back at it today. He hinted that the next card involved a player that joined the Padres this year, and I instantly knew it was Ryan Ludwick. Things progressed quickly this afternoon...
I saw that Hill ended with an L and Ludwick of course started with one. I started the chain by looking at it in such a manner and ended up with the list I sent to Mike as part of the solution:
As you can see, each name linked to the next one until there was one player/card left standing... Nick Markakis. My month of frustration with this picture was over... The code however, was not...
Mike sent me the following coded message saying that they were clues to a card in the 2010 A&G set, send a picture of that card to him and I win... and that Markakis was the key...
3, 14 , 21, 6 ,3 ,21, 8
22, 12, 9, 17, 8
6, 21, 8, 1, 24, 9, 8
22, 25, 21, 12, 24, 25, 24
2, 25, 6, 3, 23, 9, 10, 14, 25, 12
I then plugged the numbers into an Excel file and plugged in a vlookup formula against an alphabet listing. Of course the straight A=1, B=2, etc came back with gibberish. I remembered that "Markakis is the key" and saw in the picture that his uniform number is "21". So I plugged the code in based on A=21, B=22, etc as you'll see below...
At first, ashamedly I didn't get it. I was thinking the color brown and I put all five words into google together and got nothing. I was a bit confused. I looked through the A&G checklist and saw Da Vinci. Italian, bearded and I knew he had an early concept of the helicopter. Then I wondered how Langdon and Brown applied. I had an A-HA moment when I remembered the book/movie "The Da Vinci Code". The irony was not lost on me... So I had solved it. I sent a picture of the card in to Mike and was greeted with a warm congratulations. Hopefully this has impressed someone enough to include me on the next A&G Code break... haha!
Thanks Mike, this was a lot of fun and it challenged me to break it!