Sox Machine Host Sam Seaborn?

On the Sox Machine podcast this morning, I listened to Josh & Jim make their plea for Hahn & Co. to “spend an extra $10 million dollars.” I almost posted this as a comment, but it turned out to be too long for that—and it’s probably niche enough that most won’t enjoy it like I did. But I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share.

As an enormous fan of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, I kept being reminded of a scene from the episode “In the Shadow of the Gunmen (Part II).” In it, we flash back to the former lives of the staff and Sam Seaborn, the precocious speech writer, is working at a large law firm that is trying to close a deal for a corporation to buy a fleet of ships.

If you’ve not seen the West Wing, well, that’s a shame, but all you need to know is that Mr. Gage is Sam’s boss and everybody else in the scene works for the corporation that wants the ships.

If this isn’t a perfect analogy for this White Sox offseason, I don’t know what is. You can fill in the blanks. Copied and pasted from this script.

SAM: Actually. I have a thing. I have a thing I was going to mention, just a proposal to throw out there. When I was a congressional aide, we had an expression, ‘no idea was too stupid to say out loud,’ so here it is, bear me out. [beat] Instead of buying these ships? Don’t buy these ships. Buy other ships. Better ships. That’s my idea.

LOCH [to Mr. Gage]: What is he talking about?

GAGE: That’s a perfectly fair question. Sam, what the hell are you talking about?

SAM: And the good news is we have a no-penalty clause we can exercise if we pull out before the First of December.

CAMERON: But Sam, we want these ships. This is as little as we’ve ever paid for a fleet.

SAM: Well, there’s a reason why they don’t cost a lot of money. They’re 20-year old single hulled VLCCs that nobody wants. When they hit things, they will break. And they will hit things, because they don’t have state of the art navigation systems. They don’t have G3 tank gauging, or EM-5000 engine monitoring, the recommended staletronic, or electopneumotronic ballast.

GAGE [chuckling]: And yesterday, he didn’t know the difference between a ship and a boat!

LOCH: Sam, I thought you told us that you covered our liability.

SAM: I did. Strictly speaking, I did. But there’s a broader liability to think about. People drove past Exxon Stations after the Valdez.

CAMERON: We’ve got PR firms for PR problems.

SAM: There’s a Suez tanker ready to launch in the Koje Island shipyard in Korea. Chevron just dropped the option, and it’s sitting there in its cradle. Let’s go get it.

GAGE: Sam, can I talk you for a second?

Sam follows Mr. Gage out, while still talking to the client.

SAM: 308,000 deadweight tons, carries 2.2 million gallons, and you can have it today for 46 million.

LOCH: 46 million dollars?

SAM: That’s a good price!



The conference room again.

CAMERON: That’s amortized over–?

FEMALE LAWYER: 15 years.

CAMERON: Pre-tax?


SAM: Hmm?

FEMALE LAWYER: 15 million pre-tax amortization.

SAM [to clients, giving it one last shot]: 11 million extra dollars.

The female lawyer groans.

GAGE: Sam!

LOCH: We’re back to this.

SAM: Money’s going to be spent, Mr. Loch, you can spend it now, or you can spend it later, but it’s cheaper to spend it now.

LOCH: Sam.

SAM: And it’s also the right thing to do. Spend 11 million extra dollars.

GAGE: Sam!

SAM: Spend it on a better boat.

GAGE: Damn it!

SAM: The Amoco Cadiz, 68 million gallons of crude oil off of Brittany, France. The Braer, a Liberian Tanker 26 million gallons off the Shetland Islands. I just pulled these off the internet last night! The Exxon Valdez. The Aegaen Sea. The Argo Merchant. Look it up!

GAGE: I’m sure they’re…

SAM: Spend an extra 11 million dollars!


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And he relives his firm’s decision in a later episode when that ship runs aground. It’s a fitting metaphor.

Josh Nelson

Great post!