Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oh, Mr. Maddon! Dennis says 9 = 8

About this time last year, the familiar one-panel cartoon was tucked into the funny pages of newspapers across the country, including those found in and around Boston.

Actually, it was Oct. 13, 2008 when Dennis the Menace stood at the blackboard, added 5 and 4 and came up with 8.

"No, Dennis," his teacher said, "we can't agree to disagree."

The cartoon, which I read that morning at a hotel in Newton Mass. (and I know this because I read Dennis the Menace every morning), left little impression other than that all-to-familiar feeling of standing at the blackboard and not knowing the answer.

Look closer: 4 + 5 = 9, except in the world of Dennis the Menace, where it equals 8.

Some readers took that to mean in the world of Dennis the Menace, 9 = 8.

Some of those readers were in Boston that day, preparing for the Game 3 of the ALCS between the Rays and the Red Sox.

And, the Rays advanced that far in the postseason (and would advance farther, still) because, Class? Nine equals eight!

Someone in the Rays organization or a Rays fan or a friend of manager Joe Maddon (I can't remember which) sent a copy of the cartoon to Maddon. It now hangs in his office inside the Trop.

It was proof, Maddon said, of just how far Rays mania spread in 2008.

Even Dennis Mitchell believed. Wonder what good ol' Mr. Wilson thought?

And to have it run in mid-October when the Rays were on their way to the World Series is something you can't make up.

Except, that wasn't the case.

Marcus Hamilton, who draws the Monday to Saturday Dennis the Menace one-panel cartoons, wasn't aware of the odd connection between Dennis and the Rays.

In a phone interview back in June, Hamilton explained he draws the cartoons weeks in advance, so to tip his pen to the Rays and have it run during the ALCS would have been a big risk.

Also, Hamilton said he is a football fan, and wasn't aware of the Rays remarkable run to the World Series or the 9 = 8 theme.

Way to kill a great story, Marcus.

When told of the non-connection, Maddon smiled and said, "Great. A total coincidence. This makes the story even cooler."

I suppose it does.

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