Originally written on Baseball Prospectus  |  Last updated 3/20/12

Thanks to everyone who reached out to me about the cryptography challenge this week and to those who worked on it silently. I hope it was at least a mildly fun diversion.

The winner of my undying admiration is myshkin, who had already solved the puzzle by the time I woke up the next morning. It's not much of a prize, but it's his!   Before I reveal the actual phrases, I'll describe my encryption method. As I said in the comments earlier, it's not the most bullet-proof encryption, but it works well enough for these purposes. Just don't use this method to smuggle secrets out of Moscow, okay?   The Method   Here are the two encoded phrases again:
Phrase #1 98/21-416-198-9 93/28-75.1-53-1993 90/23-7-.354-.306-16-116-16-30 84/40-16-560-1-1-3 02/28-.374-0 92/31-20-68-268-35-11-65-1992 87/49-7-201-114-15-28   Phrase #2 93/35-41-549-112-54 93/29-261-981-104-104-96-10-4-.314-2 85/41-238.2-6 84/03-308-29-6 96/32-7-110-.307-9-389 05/14-.375-3-3-10-0-1
As you can see, each phrase is made up of 6 or 7 lines. At the start of each line is one pair of two-digit numbers separated by a slash. The rest of the numbers are separated by dashes. Each line is a single word in the phrase.   The pair of numbers at the start of the line is a key. The first two digits before the slash represent a year while the second two digits represent a uniform number. The player wearing that uniform number for either the Cubs or White Sox in the given year is the encryption key for that word.   For example, the first word in phrase #1 is "98/21-416-198-9". Looking at the leading pair, we get the year 1998 and the uniform number 21. Who wore #21 in 1998? Why, Sammy Sosa of course!   From here, we take a look at Sosa's statistics for the 1998 season. Can we find 416, 198, and 9 somewhere in his stats? Of course we can. Sosa had 416 Total Bases and 198 Hits. He also had 9 Caught Stealings and 9 Reached on Errors. To read the word, we take the first letter of "Total Bases" and the first letter of "Hits" to get "T-H-?". We could put the "C" in there for "Caught Stealing", but that doesn't make sense. The "E" in "Errors" fits perfectly, though!   And that's the decryption method. Find the player used as the word's key and then find the stats corresponding to the letter in the code.   It's not perfect, of course. There are no basic statistics that begin with "V", for example, so I had to stretch that one (there are two "V's" in the cryptogram, and they're represented by "saVes" and "aVg"). Other letters, like "M", couldn't even be stretched like that (there are no "M's" in the cryptogram at all). Some letters could only be represented with pitching stats and some only by batting stats. This made words with letters from those two groups difficult to create; in those cases, I tended to use a pitcher and his OBP-against or AB-against stats instead.   The Answer   Using this method, we find the following encoded phrases. Remember, one was for pride and one was for shame.
Phrase #1: The ivy covered walls of Wrigley Field. Phrase #2: Hawk Harrelson in the front office. 
(For those who may not know, White Sox broadcaster served as the club's General Manager for a couple of months in the summer of 1986. He fired Tony LaRussa, who was then hired by the A's.)   The players used as keys for each word were:
Phrase #1: Sosa '98, Randy Myers '93, Ryne Sandberg '90, Rick Sutcliffe '84, Mark Bellhorn '02, Greg Maddux '92, Jamie Moyer '87 Phrase #2: Frank Thomas '93, Jack McDowell '93, Harold Baines '84, Alex Fernandez '96, Paul Konerko '05
In my mind, people would need to recognize the key as a player/season combination, so I intentionally went for recognizable seasons, like Sandberg's MVP 1990 or Maddux's Cy Young 1992. If I had wanted to make this too difficult, I would have stuck with bench players from the late-1970s.   So that's it. I know a few people were able to solve the cryptogram completely while a few others figured out the key before getting stuck. If you tried to solve it, did you get that far? Or did you approach it from some other way? Was it way too easy or way too hard? Being as close to it as I am, I really have no way of knowing how complicated it might be to fresh eyes.   No matter what, though, I hope you enjoyed the challenge. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

10 takeaways from Week 3 of the NFL preseason

Cubs ace Jake Arrieta no-hits the Dodgers

Chicago Bears release two-time Pro Bowl CB Tim Jennings

Indians president Mark Shapiro jumps to same role in Toronto

Tom Coughlin: Victor Cruz not expected to practice this week

Report: Redskins ownership won't let coaches bail on RG3

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

D'Angelo Russell: 'There's a lot of spoiled Lakers fans'

Terry Collins didn't challenge double out of fear of HR

Has Tim Lincecum thrown his last pitch for the Giants?

Jerry Jones is enthralled with ‘vintage’ Darren McFadden

Report: Three NFL head coaches were interested in Michigan job

Odell Beckham Jr. is not intimidated of Darrelle Revis

Five NFL teams that should trade for Robert Griffin III

U.S. Open women's preview: Can anyone stop Serena?

Buffalo Bills need to start Tyrod Taylor at quarterback

WATCH: Broncos defender drops Reggie Bush, skirmish ensues

U.S. Open men's preview: Will there be a surprise champion?

Big Papi crushes Syndergaard pitch for 494th homer

Virginia Tech honoring slain journalists with helmet stickers

AJ Green on contract: 'All the receivers are getting bank'

Clippers owner rejects $60 million annual TV rights deal

Saints thank residents of New Orleans on 10th Katrina anniversary

Fan delivers In-N-Out Burger to Tyler Seguin during game

A tribute to 76ers legend Darryl Dawkins

Five teams with the best NBA schedule in 2015-2016

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five NFL teams that should trade for Robert Griffin III

10 takeaways from Week 3 of the NFL preseason

Cubs' Jake Arrieta no-hits the Dodgers

Chicago Bears release Tim Jennings

U.S. Open men's preview

U.S. Open women's preview

D'Angelo Russell zings Lakers fans

Every NBA division's most interesting rookie for 2015-16

Fantasy football round-by-round draft strategy

Ronda Rousey's Carl’s Jr. ad

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker