Nick: Once I had found the 9 L cards I started looking for other boxes around letters or any other oddity but could find nothing. I was stumped where to go from here. I was also trying to match the symbols up with letters and numbers. We counted 57 different symbols so I guessed that maybe each letter had two symbols, but I would have figured that whatever symbols would have been the vowels would have popped up very frequent, but none seem to pop up a lot more than any other. I had no idea where to go next until...
Mike: Notice a couple of things here. Most importantly, the top border matches completely! Planet, moon, cup, key...all in order, but just the top border. Also notice that both backgrounds are green. I immediately called Nick up to report my finding. Nick followed suit, looking for other matches with players with the same number of letters in their names. next came...
Again, same amount of letters in the name, same blue background, except this time the LEFT border only matches!
Mike: We knew at this point we were on to something. Right around this time I had some family over for dinner but was just freaking out because we were hot on the trail. I kept disappearing into the bedroom to check me email, and sure enough, Nick was sending them fast and furious and before we knew it we had 9 matches as follows...
Hill/Cain, 4 letter name, green background, top border
Eaton/Loney 5 letter name, blue background, right border
Wells/Bruce 5 letter name, red background, left border
Uggla/Parra 5 letter name, red background, right border
Liriano/Theriot 7 letter name, green background, right border
Miller/Smoltz 6 letter name, green background, left border
Reynolds/Hochovar 7 letter name, blue background, top border
Ankiel/Posada 6 letter name, blue background, left border
Kinsler/Grienke 6 letter name, red background, top border
- There are 3 top, 3 right, and 3 left borders
- There are 3 red pairs, 3 blue pairs, and 3 green pairs
- MOST IMPORTANT...the matching cards turn out to be cards # 1-9 on the base checklist! Don't believe me? Take a look!
So at this point we have now dealt with 18 cards...Nick: I was starting to lose my hope when I ran into a dead-end on the L cards, but when Mike told me about matching the top border on one of the cards, my mind started racing. Mike had family over so I found the rest of the matches, and when I realized that the cards were 1-9 on the checklist, I also found that interesting. The reason is, if you look at the checklist most of the code cards are spread out, and only a few are in sequential order. Here, the first 9 cards of the set were in sequential order and matched a given border to the L cards. At this point we still didn't have the Wells card, so we had to do some guessing as to which L was really boxed.
Mike: With family on its way home I jumped back on the computer and started arranging the 18 cards in order of 1-9 with its match, so #1 Bruce/Wells, #2 Grienke/Kinsler...and ran into another coder red herring. Taking the letter from each card corresponding to the letter on the primer "L" cards, I spelled out the words UNRAVEL IT. I was so certain that I had just solved the code and quickly sent my guess to Topps and contacted Nick. He was pretty skeptical that was all there was too it, and thank god he decided to dig deeper, because I was WRONG!
Nick: Haha, I remember getting this statement in an email: "I figured it out and submitted the guess." That was the only thing the email said. I'm sitting here thinking, how in the hell did this guy figure that out? He didn't tell me what it was or anything, so I thought it might be the last I would hear from him. I emailed him back asking what it was, he told me about UNRAVEL IT, and said "congrats bud, we did it". We borrowed Unravel for the title of this blog, and I believe Topps did put this in their purposefully to make people think they had solved it. We would later find out that those 9 cards that spelled UNRAVEL IT were not used again in the code. Anyways, at this point I was convinced there was no way we weren't going to use all 100 cards, so I wasn't going to give up just yet by believing that was the final solution.