SpyCast 10.25.22
Ep 561 | 10.25.22

“Baseball & Espionage” –with World Series Champion Ryan Zimmerman & Marc Polymeropoulos (Part 1 of 2)


Andrew Hammond: Hi, and welcome to "SpyCast." I'm your host, Dr. Andrew Hammond, historian and curator here at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. "SpyCast's" sole purpose is to educate our listeners about the past, present and future of intelligence and espionage. Every week, through engaging conversations, we explore some aspect of a vast ecosystem that looms beneath the surface of everyday life. We talk to spies, operators, mole hunters, defectors, analysts and authors to explore the stories and secrets, tradecraft and technology of the secret world. We are "SpyCast." Now sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

Andrew Hammond: This week, I sat down with World Series champion Ryan Zimmerman - yes, the one and only Mr. National - and one of the most highly decorated CIA officers of his generation, Marc Polymeropoulos, who just so happens to be a baseball fanatic and a Washington Nationals season ticket holder. Have you ever wondered about scene-stealing, how to run a baseball counterintelligence operation, or what some of the many, many links are between baseball and espionage? You've come to the right place. The conversation will be released in two parts to span the week of the 2022 World Series. 

Andrew Hammond: A little more about our guests - Ryan Zimmerman played for the Washington Nationals from 2005, when Major League Baseball came back to Washington, D.C. after a 33-year gap, up until 2021, when his number 11 jersey was retired after his departure. He was a first-round draft pick for the Nats, has been an All-Star twice, a Silver Slugger twice and a Gold Glove winner, as well as a World Series champion in 2019. 

Andrew Hammond: Marc Polymeropoulos is a former CIA operations officer who's received awards such as the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the Intelligence Commendation Medal and the Intelligence Medal of Merit. He specialized in counter-terrorism, the Middle East and South Asia. And just prior to his retirement, he served at CIA headquarters in charge of clandestine operations in Europe and Eurasia. He is the author of the 2021 book, "Clarity in Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the CIA". I hope you enjoy this week's show. If you do, please leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Even a sentence or a word would help. Thank you. 

Andrew Hammond: Well, I'm so glad that this is happening. And I'm glad - I think it's a great follow-up to the one that me and Marc had last year. And now we've got a bona fide master national baseball player - World Series winner with us, which is - really adds another dimension to it. So thank you, gentlemen, for coming in this morning. The first thing that I wanted to start off with - is there anything that you've ever wanted to ask a CIA officer... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: (Laughter). 

Andrew Hammond: ...Who happens to have wrote an article on baseball and espionage? And is there anything that you've - I'm sure there's a lot of things that you've always wanted to ask Ryan. So if we want to start off like that, we'll just get the conversation flowing. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah, I think, you know, one of the coolest things about this city - and people ask me, you know, what was it like to play there - play in the same city for so long? And I've always said, I think D.C. is the coolest city in the world 'cause it's the most powerful city, and there's things that you can do here that you can't do anywhere else. You know, there's great cities all across the country, and, you know, there's just things here that don't exist anywhere else. And when you're here and you do sports - and we get invited to do some pretty cool things, and I've done some fun things. 

Ryan Zimmerman: As far as questions, I mean, I love this stuff 'cause, like, the more people that I've met - they give you, like, a little bit, and then they're - and then they kind of stop. It's almost like the - it's like, hey, I have something to tell you, but I can't tell you. So, like, if I had to ask one question - oh, man - is there, like, the underground city and roads underneath the city? 


Marc Polymeropoulos: Underneath - well, yeah, I know - I, you know, we know that you actually have been to CIA headquarters. 

Ryan Zimmerman: I have. That was really an honor, obviously, to go there. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: And I had retired at the time. My wife was still there, and she actually went to UVA, so she had you sign a UVA hat. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah, they had me come... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Yeah. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...And actually speak... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: That's right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...For 10 or 15 minutes to a lot of... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: So she loved... 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...The people there, and it was - that was really fun. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: But so I think one of the kind of the fun facts about CIA - you know, there certainly is a basement. But in the basement, there's a famous hot dog machine. It's disgusting when you think about it... 

Ryan Zimmerman: (Laughter). 

Marc Polymeropoulos: ...Because it's a hot dog - I don't know how long those hot dogs have been there. But it's kind of - on a good note, you know, if we're supposed to be working 24 hours, 24/7 to protect the country, sometimes, you're hungry in the middle of the night. And they sell these kind of nasty hot dogs. And so that's a - it's a famous tidbit. So next time you go, ask to go to the hot dog machine. Don't try it. Just take a picture of it. 

Ryan Zimmerman: It's like a good cast-iron. It's got... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: (Laughter). 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...Some good flavor from years and years in there. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Right. 

Andrew Hammond: And maybe Marc can confirm if the Astros built a secret underground tunnel network... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: That's right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...Under Nationals Park. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Oh, boy. Banging the drums... 

Ryan Zimmerman: They didn't do a good enough job, I guess. 


Ryan Zimmerman: We were ready. We were ready for them. 

Andrew Hammond: That's one thing that I wanted to, you know, explore - the Astros and the sign stealing and so forth. But just before we get there, I found this great historical nugget which ties in to Ryan going to visit CIA. So in 1990, the CIA director, William Webster, took along the owners of the Baltimore Orioles. And Director Webster said, many here have found that baseball is particularly compatible with intelligence. Both could be called the sport of the long season. Both demand the long view, a need for teamwork, a demand for individual performance. Both require excellence and precision. I just wondered if either of you had any thoughts on that? 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah, I mean, I would agree. I think that's what makes baseball special - is we play twice as many games as anyone else. You could argue we could kind of modernize it, maybe cut it back by about 20 or 25 games. But it's really hard for a team to have success at the beginning of a year and sustain it. That's not a - we - by the end of the year, you know who the good teams are. It's hard to - you can't fake it but for a month or two. So I think our sport's unique in that way because we - it is a grind. It's so long. And like he said, it takes everybody. It takes teamwork. You're going to have injuries. It's just undeniable that people are going to get hurt. I'm going to go through a time where I stink. And someone else is going to have to be good, and then they're going to stink, and I'm going to have to be good. So you create this relationship because you spend more time with those guys than your family, literally, for six or seven months. And I'm sure when they're doing things, you know, they're away from their families. And they're doing - I mean, they're not 24/7. They're, you know, whatever - weeks and weeks of 24/7 to find something. So I think it is very compatible. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: You know, I was actually - I was at, you know, the game when your number was retired. It was pretty remarkable in that what I was thinking of - and it just - you know, it was - really kind of hit me was how it's very similar at the end of someone's career at CIA. I remember when I walked out for the last time. And, you know, and you think about kind of the ups and downs. And I think you made some great statements in that, you know, at some points in your career, you're hitting .220. And other times, you know, you're an All-Star. And so that's similar in the intelligence business because what you learn - and I think it's the exact same with baseball - is you learn how to overcome adversity. And if you can't be mentally tough on a consistent basis over kind of a marathon, you're not going to succeed. And so you're going to have tough times, but it's how you react to those. And I think that builds strength and character. I mean, I you know, I always - in the book I wrote, you know, there's references to the Nats. There's references to the Red Sox. But I'll never forget that 2004 Red Sox team where - remember they were down 3-0? 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yep. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: And Kevin Millar gets up there and says, we're going to shock the world. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yep. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: But, you know, the year before they had lost a crushing seven-game series to the Yankees. And I don't think they win in '04 if they hadn't gone through what they did in '03. And even with the Nats and with some playoff failures, you know, 2019 was a magical time. But, you know, maybe you don't have that success if you hadn't gone through so much as a team before. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah, very rarely do you see a team that goes to the playoffs for the first time and really kind of just runs through and wins the World Series. And, you know, we fail a lot. You guys I'm sure fail a lot because we're both doing things that are almost impossible. I mean, me hitting a baseball when not knowing what the guy's going to throw and not quite as, I wouldn't say, dramatic for real life as what you guys do when you're - maybe fail to find information... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...Or something like that. But, you know, we both did things that were really hard to succeed at. And, you know, like you said, the failure and the learning from your mistakes or the gathering information from the failures lets you succeed in the future. 

Andrew Hammond: This is quite interesting to me because it seems that what both of you done have got to be two of the hardest things to do on the planet - to hit a ball coming at you 100 miles an hour and not knowing what kind of pitch as or trying to spot, assess, develop and recruit someone to betray their country to give you secrets. Both of them are really difficult things to do. So I was wondering, was there ever a point for any of you where you thought, God, this is too difficult? Like, I just - I feel like throwing in the towel. 

Ryan Zimmerman: I mean, I think one big difference is - and he can correct me if I'm wrong, but at least I can talk about it with people. I think that's probably the toughest thing for a lot of what they do - is they can't share it even with their closest confidants or, you know, spouse, partners, whoever it is. You know, a lot of the times when you go through tough times, the best thing to do is talk about it with someone that you love or trust. And we can do that. But as far as, you know, did I ever think - when I had the shoulder injuries - you know, playing third base coming up as, like, a defensive-first person, and that's what I took so much pride in. And then I had the shoulder problems. 

Ryan Zimmerman: I went through those - that year, year and a half where I could - sometimes my shoulder felt great, and sometimes I couldn't throw the ball to first base. And, you know, you've been doing something your whole life, and it was - you never even thought about it - and then have to go through that. I never thought about quitting, but it definitely gave me a different perspective. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Before that, there was really no real hardship besides just the normal baseball slump or - you know, you have a bad game where you make a couple of errors and you strike out three times, but you play a game the next day and that goes away. But that one was tough. And I think I grew up a lot, mentally, through that. It wasn't fun or enjoyable to go through. But I think, you know, the second part of my career - moving to first base and then not being an everyday player - I think I - not that I ever took anything for granted, but I enjoyed success more after that because it was taken away from me for a little bit. 

Andrew Hammond: I should maybe rephrase that question. Rather than quitting just playing baseball or quitting being a CIA officer, I should probably have phrased it more - did you ever reach the point where you doubted that you would reach the promised land of your profession? Like, the World Series or the playoff run or some really top-drawer recruitments and so forth - did you ever worry that you were never going to reach the heights that you always wanted to get to? 

Marc Polymeropoulos: I mean, I knew - you think about, you know, the counterterrorism wars. You know, I spent most of my career running counterterrorism operations. And, you know, we - you know, after the terrible events of 9/11, I think everything changed for us where, you know, I spent a lot of time in Afghanistan and some other places. I ran one of our paramilitary bases for a year along the Pak-Afghan border. But really, the hunt for bin Laden - you know, it took 10 years. And, you know, I have a really good friend of mine. And it's such a great story because you can just - you know, 'cause, you know, that was the promised land - you know, finding, fixing and just - we'll say it - finishing bin Laden - you know, perhaps the same thing as a World Series victory - but 10 years. And that's all this friend of mine did. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: You know, so I was - I went kind of in and out. Sometimes I did, you know, kind of normal CIA operational tours, maybe in an embassy. Maybe then I went for a year to Afghanistan. But this friend of mine - all he did for 10 years was hunt for bin Laden. And so when it finally happens - really interesting because it was frustrating along the way. And there are some tragic stories where we lost friends, lost allies. But ultimately, after bin Laden was killed, and when I talked to him about it, it was a strange feeling because now he almost said, well, OK, now what do I do? But it was - you know, there are some things operationally that take a hell of a long time to achieve. And I imagine it's the same thing when you're - you know, you're trying for that elusive World Series victory. Some baseball players who are in the Hall of Fame never have won a World Series, right? 

Ryan Zimmerman: Some really good players have never even played in the playoffs... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Playoffs, yeah. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...And I think that, too - and, you know, I talk about it. Like a young guy - like a Juan Soto comes up and wins the World Series. And like... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Wow. right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...You think that's going to happen... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Yep. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...Every year, and, you know, it's not his fault. I mean, you know, he was obviously a huge part of it, and I would never not want a young guy to win the World Series. I don't care who's on my team if you win the World Series. But, you know, I don't think people - young players and then I don't think fans - realize how hard it is, first of all, to get to the playoffs, and then, second of all, to win in the playoffs. I mean, the years that we lost - besides maybe one year, we really were in every single series. I, mean, a lot of, like, Game 5's or, you know, games or series that we could have won if, like, one little thing goes the other way or if we get a big hit here or we make a play. It's just so hard when you get to that level. 

Ryan Zimmerman: It's the same thing with, you know, hunting bin Laden or whoever the... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...Target is. Like, when you get to that level, one little thing can probably ruin the whole mission or, for us, can swing the game. And then if you don't win Game 3, then Game 4 and 5 - like, it's just so hard. And I think, for those 10 years, we pretty much made the playoffs not every year, but we were in it every year. And it just became like, oh, well, though, every year, this is what's going to happen. And, like, it ended up being kind of like that, but it wasn't that easy, I guess is the best way to put it. You know, there's a lot of things that go into it and - but yeah, it's - but like you said, your buddy - you finish, and then it's almost like you're high. Your adrenaline - like, you want it. You need it - something to push you. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: And then when you accomplish it - for us, it's easy. We just try and win another one. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: I mean, there's - I'm sure there's more people that your buddy is obviously looking into, but that was, like, the crown jewel of the time. And once you do it, I'm sure there's almost like a letdown. You want to keep doing it almost, since it's - he wasn't upset, I'm sure, that they finally accomplished the goal, but you kind of like doing that stuff. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: That's true. No, I mean, the counterterrorism world, that's addictive. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: I mean, it's a horrible thing to say. You know, I remember watching the recent HBO documentary on Derek Jeter. And I thought it was so interesting because I think now, it seems like, looking back, he's very appreciative. But he was so driven all the time that it's almost like, you know, he didn't understand how much he had accomplished - all those World Series victories - 'cause all he wanted was more. I think that's a - kind of a strange little tic that a professional baseball player will have and a CIA operations officer as well. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Maybe, you know, when you're done with your career, you look back at all those great things. But for us, it's always - you know, it always is, you know, OK, what's next? You know, there is more to do. And, you know, in the counterterrorism world, it certainly was like that. There's more people who want to do harm to the United States. So you can - you know, you can kind of have a beer with your friends around the fire pit in eastern Afghanistan. You know, we used to call it caveman TV. And then you're like, all right, let's get on with it. What's next? We'll be right back after this. 

Andrew Hammond: After you reached the promised land, so to speak, was there a feeling of deflation after that - this could be the only time I'm ever at this height? And was there a feeling - yeah, I don't know, 'cause I've never reached those heights. What was it like? 

Ryan Zimmerman: Well, I mean, you've done some pretty good stuff, so I wouldn't... 


Ryan Zimmerman: ...I wouldn't discredit yourself that much. I mean, for me, honestly, everyone asked, like, what did you do that night? After that game was over - I didn't realize it until the game was over, but I was so mentally drained that I had all these plans to, like, go party and go do all these - and my dad was there, Heather was there, some of our closer friends were there. And we had a couple of drinks afterwards, but you - I was so exhausted. Like, you don't realize it when you're in it - when you're in the moment. 

Ryan Zimmerman: I mean, we played, gosh, an extra, probably, 20-some games. And like, those games are different. I mean, you pay attention, obviously, during the regular season, and you're in every game. But, like, the postseason is - every single pitch is like, you know, the last couple innings during the regular season, where you're really locked in. And you do that for the first series, and then each series kind of compounds with the intensity and the media and, you know, the - I say pressure and, I mean, I don't - I enjoy being in those situations, so I don't really think the pressure does that. But when I finished after that Game 7 and I kind of just had a moment to just sit down, I was like, wow, I'm exhausted. 


Ryan Zimmerman: And then the next three days, four days, you know, you party and you have fun. And then, yeah, I think you reach it, and it's - there's that climax, in that you get to the top, and then you give yourself a week or two off, and then it's like what you were talking about with Derek Jeter. It's like, all right. Now, the spring training's in... 

Andrew Hammond: (Laughter). 

Marc Polymeropoulos: That's right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...Literally two months. Give yourself a couple weeks off, and you got to get back on the horse. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: You know, one of the things in my old world - and, again, I'm sure it's the same with baseball - is, you know, you have the highest of highs and you have the lowest of lows. And so, you know, there's a character trait that I loved about CIA officers, and it's for professional athletes, too, I'm sure - I'm sitting next to one, here - is that it's about humility. Because it's such a tough business that we're in. And so you're going to, you know, you might win a World Series, but then, you know, the next year you might be injured and hit 220. And so, you know, it's kind of - it's trying to keep kind of that straight, even keel. One of your teammates, I thought, was one of the most humble players I'd ever seen. It was Howie Kendrick. He's a really remarkable figure. And if you remember in the World Series - of course, Ryan, you do - you know, he had - the beginning of his World Series wasn't so great. The end of it certainly was. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Made some errors at... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Yep. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...The beginning, and... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: And so - and, you know, what a great kind of, you know, figure to look at. And so, you know, it's - again, it's a, you know, high risk, high reward type of profession that I was in. And so, you know, there were times where we had a tremendous operational success. The president of the United States was lauding us. You're walking high. You feel great. And then something really bad would happen afterwards - maybe there was involved loss of life. So, you know, that kind of - you know, being humble was a trait that I, you know, I - that's - when people ask me, what's the most important thing to do in a long career in intelligence, it's that. 

Andrew Hammond: I always remember that at Minute Maid Park, when he hit the flag pole. I think I lost my voice instantaneously. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Oh, yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: (Laughter). 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah, he told me he tried to get that. They won't... 


Ryan Zimmerman: ...Give it to him, though. But yeah, he was one of my favorite teammates of all time. I mean, he was such a great person. But yeah, like, going back to what he said, the humility. And we always used to say nobody's bigger than the game, like... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Yep. 

Ryan Zimmerman: You could have a superstar. He pulls a hamstring. The next day, there's going to be a game without that person. Like, baseball doesn't wait for anybody, just like I'm sure their job doesn't wait for anybody. You could have a hotshot, awesome agent person that definitely needs everyone else on his team. You can't do anything by yourself. Baseball is for sure like that. I mean, basketball, you know, if you have a really good player, you're probably going to be pretty good. Football, if you have a really good quarterback, you have a chance to be really good. I'm not saying you don't need the other guys on the team - but baseball, you can't have just one good player. It has to be everyone. 

Andrew Hammond: I meant to say foul pole, not flag pole. 


Andrew Hammond: That's actually one of my questions because - again, as an outsider, it seems to me that, in your former world, Marc, and your former world, Ryan, they seem less susceptible to, like, a Tom Brady or a LeBron James-type figure. Like, you can't have one person that carries the whole team. Like, the Nats in 2019 doesn't happen with without yourself, Soto, Strasburg, Scherzer, the - all of these people coming through. You can't just have one person that you're relying on. It's more - I guess the responsibility for team success is more spread out rather than focused on certain individuals. Would you agree with that? 

Marc Polymeropoulos: I think it's a parallel to both worlds. So, you know, in my book I talk about that principle - a leadership principle of the glue guy, which, frankly, is a sports term. But it's the notion there are indispensable members of your team who might not be starting - you know, who might not be on the field that day. But, you know, think about the second- or third-string catcher - you know, all the bullpens that pitchers have to throw - or utility players. And, you know, at CIA it was the same thing. So you don't have a bunch of superstars. But when you have a huge operational success, it can be support officers, you know, in the rear, or logistics officers. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: You know, I tell a great story from, you know, my time in Afghanistan, where, you know, our job was hunting high-value targets. That's all. I was singularly focused when I was there, and we did a very good job on it protecting Americans. But I'll never forget - it was the day a young Afghan boy stepped on a landmine outside our base, and he blew his leg off. And he was bleeding out. And one of our medics - our docs - came, and they saved his life. You know, that's not going to get any headlines back at Langley. You know, they had nothing to do with saving American lives in counterterrorism missions, but we did something really good that day, and the medic did. And I remember addressing the team afterwards and how proud I was of them. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: But that's the notion of having, you know, indispensable behind-the-scenes players. And I think that, you know, baseball is a absolute perfect example of it. I mean, Ryan, how many times have you seen, you know, someone coming off the bench with a huge pinch hit, or someone - you know, each playoff team - World Series team - seems to have someone who was kind of overlooked... 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah, well... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: ...And then comes up in a heroic fashion? 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah. In 2019 - and, you know, I said - when I spoke at the parade, you know, I said I truly believed that that was the only team that could've done that. I mean, to start at 19 and - because we were - first of all, we were a really good team. I mean, you have to be really good to win that many games. I mean, we played ridiculous after that 19 and 31 start, but we had such a great mix of veteran guys with young guys, a couple of superstar players - mostly just really good, like, MLB players that knew the game, didn't panic. And we had just such a good mix of all the different types of people, too - you know, people from America, people from Latin American countries... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...People - and some teams kind of - they have their own little - like, we did everything together. And, you know, it didn't matter if you were a pitcher. It didn't matter if you were from the Dominican Republic. It didn't matter if you were from California. And I really think that's what got us through that first time. And Davey is really - deserves a lot of credit for that, too. But, you know, a guy like Parra... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: That's right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...You know, nobody gets to see what he did with Juan and Victor Robles on a daily basis, teaching them, you know, how to do their work - how to get out there and - you know, every day during BP, go out there and do your outfield throws, your things like that, where some days they probably wouldn't have done it, and he was like, nope, go. Go do it. And, like, they're like, oh, come on, man. They're like - he's like, just go do it. So, like, you need those guys. And like he said - not that he - he didn't save anyone's life - nothing that that medic did, but that wasn't in the paper. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Like, you never saw one article about that. But that was probably more important than what they did on the field. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Parra was a classic glue guy - perfect. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Yep. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Him, Anibal Sanchez... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Yeah. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...You know, all the - and Brian Dozier - it was - I mean, he's all star, but, you know. And then Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes - two veteran guys who were completely fine with splitting time. A couple of them - one guy would get hot, and one guy wouldn't play for four or five days - no complaints. And then when it's their turn, they're ready. Like, you have to have people like that. For that team, we had to have it, and I just still believe to this day that no other team would have done what we did that year. 

Andrew Hammond: I always thought that Patrick Corbin was overlooked in that World Series. He closed it out, and I just thought he'd done such a great job, but he's not one of the - that's most often discussed when that team is discussed. 

Ryan Zimmerman: He was asked to do so many things that he was not brought here to do. And when you have a guy that signs the type of contract that he signs - makes the type of money that he makes to be a starting pitcher - he could have easily said, nah, I'm good. Nobody would have thought anything different, you know? But he - every time - I mean, I think he threw three or four innings in that Game 7. And you're right, nobody really talks about him. I think when we did that silly Game 7 rewatch with - you know, where we all - by the end, we were really silly watching the game, so... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: That was the Zoom call, right? 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: That was great (laughter). 

Ryan Zimmerman: I think, yeah, there was, like, three or four times where everyone was like, wow, Patrick pitched a long time in this game. 

Andrew Hammond: (Laughter). 

Marc Polymeropoulos: That's right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: You know, when you're in the game, you're just like - you're just trying to get outs. I mean, you're counting down, you know? And I remember Davey talking with him afterwards. He's like, I just kept asking him, like, hey, all right, I think you're good. And he was like, no, I mean, I feel good. I'll keep going. And, like, yeah, I think you're right, though. He doesn't get enough credit, and, you know, obviously he had a tough year this year. And I think that year kind of set him back a little bit. But the way that he works - I think he'll figure it out and bounce back from this year. But I think that run - I don't want to put words in his mouth, but - and I don't think he would ever say it anyway - but I think that kind of hung with him for the next year or so. 

Andrew Hammond: And one thing I wanted to ask both of you about was, for sports, for example, you often hear of the flow state - you know, when people are in the zone, and they're just operating almost at an unconscious or subconscious level. I'm quite interested to know if you ever experienced that in the world of espionage, Marc? Were you ever on one operation where you're just like - you come back, and you're like, wow, I was on fire there. Even though you're humble, but you know your - sometimes you know your own performance, right? 

Andrew Hammond: I mean, certainly not, like, at the level you were operating at, but I used to love playing center forward in soccer. And I remember sometimes I'll come off the pitch and it's like, whenever I touched the ball, it ended up in the back of the net. I don't kind of know what was happening, but I just know that every time I went for the ball, like, I just connected with it sweetly. Everything felt right. I had a feeling in my gut. And it - and I'm like, I wish I could recreate that feeling every single time. Did you ever have that in your world, Marc? 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Yeah, you know, in particular - and, you know, it's similar to the, you know, the 2019 Nats when you know you have that kind of - that great makeup of players. So for - you know, for example, for the CIA, you know, it was a CIA station. It was a group of officers. Maybe it's five, 10, 15. And, you know, you get that feeling after going through some type of crisis situation. And I - you know, I think that the feeling I had - you know, specifically this - you know, we were - I was in an embassy in the Middle East, and the embassy was, you know, unfortunately attacked by al-Qaida. So there was an assault at the front gate. There's - you know, there's automatic weapons fire. There's grenades being thrown, you know, on the roof of our building. There's a car bomb that hits the back gate - doesn't go off, thank God, or I'm - or it's just you two today, and not me. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: But on - but I - we had such a great team at that office. And we had actually, you know, trained for this 'cause it was a dangerous environment. So, you know, in terms of, putting - you know, getting people - you know, having them put on body armor, breaking open, you know, the weapons locker - and ultimately, we made it through that. But it was because I - you know, I had so much trust and faith just in that specific team. And, you know, that hasn't been the case my entire career. Sometimes you go - you know, when I was serving overseas and, you know, you - perhaps you don't have that kind of unique kind of link and unity of effort. But then, you know, I think you actually - you feel it when you go through some type of crisis or even, you know, some type of operational success, too. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: And those are magical moments, when you have that right mix of officers. Same thing, I would imagine - you know, the same type of team - that really kind of jelling together. And, you know, I think, you know, to the 2019 Nats - you know, one of my most, you know, cherished memories. I was at that - you know, the wild-card game with Juan Soto - just unbelievable. I've never seen my son scream so much. He poured a beer over my head, in fact. But the other thing, too, is that- it's also interesting. There's other teams - I think there's been other Nats teams that you've been on which were incredibly talented as well, but perhaps didn't have that same kind of just unique makeup, where everyone is jelling. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah. And I think, individually, baseball-wise, there are days where you feel like you felt. And I mean, the one that comes to - like, in '18, I had the really good year in the first half, and you almost just do the same thing every single day. You get there - like, I had this drill I did with Kevin Long, our hitting coach, where we'd put a net on home plate, and he would throw me flips. And it basically didn't allow me to, you know, go out. It kept me tight. And, you know, I'd hit it, and if you did, you drilled - I mean, you hit the net. That was - and then it got to the point where then I started having success. 

Ryan Zimmerman: So every single day, like, I had to do this, and you become, like, a creature of habit. And that's baseball, a creature of habit - we're all, almost to a fault sometimes, that way. But that feeling that you were saying, where you felt like you were going to score a goal every time - like, I felt like I was going to get a hit every time, so I just kept doing it every single day. And then there's days where you go up and you feel like it's, like, 0-2 before you even step in the box, and you're like, if I can just go, like, one for three today with a walk... 


Ryan Zimmerman: ...That's a win. Like, that's a great day. 

Andrew Hammond: (Laughter). 

Ryan Zimmerman: And it's bad because, those days, you feel like you always come up with, like, the bases loaded or you come up - and it really pushes you. That's the mental side of the game, I think. So much of it is tricking yourself into thinking you'd be - you can be successful when you feel bad. Anyone can do it when they're - when you feel locked in or when things are going well. But being able to go out there and playing every day - like, 25, 30% of the games that you play in are you probably feeling that way, where you have to somehow mentally tell yourself - it's like, you know, you're fine. Get through it and just do something. Just try and do one good thing today to help the team win. And then, you know, it snowballs. But it's such a roller coaster ride - our season - that you just kind of have to try and stay as level as you can. And when you get high, know that you're going to be... 


Ryan Zimmerman: ...You're going to be low at some point, too. So don't celebrate too much. 

Andrew Hammond: And one thing I wanted to ask you, Ryan, was - and I don't know if you felt this, Marc - but for that 2019 run, from the wild-card game on, or even the final game of the season, I just had this growing feeling in my gut that something was happening. And then it almost seemed like one of those things where you're like, I don't want to say it out loud in case I'm jinxing myself, but I was like, I think this could happen. I think the Nats could win the World Series. And then there was a little bit of a wobble, you know, at one point when the Astros were up. But, like, most of the time, I just felt like - I felt like I was on a train that was definitely going to arrive at a particular destination. I just wondered if you, as a season ticket holder and fan, felt that, and you, as a player - did you feel, wow, this is - this feels weird. This feels like there's something in my gut - a visceral feeling? 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah. And I think, you know, we had done it the other way, where we won 97 games. We clinched the division on like, September 5. And I would do that every year. I'd tell everyone. I would take that every single year, no doubt about it. But it's really hard, when you do it that way, to continue the momentum and to continue the intensity, even though you're trying to win every game still. You know, we were to the point, a couple years, where it's like, you know, how much do you play the regular guys? You have to play them, obviously, but, like, you don't want to get anyone hurt. So then you're almost playing hesitantly, which is - there's - that's no way to do anything in life, I think. 

Ryan Zimmerman: So in '19, we literally had to - like, our playoffs started in July, pretty much. So, like, from July all the way to November, every game was a playoff game. And you just get into that mode where - you know, that feeling and that everyday pressure. So by the time we got to the playoffs, it was just another game. And I think, you know, we set the goal to just get back to 500, and then we got there. And then we set the goal to, like, you know, obviously get to the wild card. And then, you know, as we started doing that, you gain confidence. And then, towards the end of the year, we're like, man, you could tell other teams - they wanted no part of us. Like, we were the team that nobody wanted to play because you're supposed to beat them, but I think people knew - I mean, our roster was unbelievable. So, like, not only did we have the really talented, great roster, but we kind of had to do, normally, what, you know, not the really talented, great roster teams do. And that's why they're so dangerous. 'Cause they're playing with house money, they don't have anything to lose. And all of the sudden, we were kind of that team with, like, a $200 million payroll. 


Ryan Zimmerman: Somehow, we defied the odds to get into that situation. We were the underdog, but we weren't really. But we convinced ourselves that that's who we were. 

Andrew Hammond: Was there a certain point where you thought this could be the year, or did you try not to think about that? 

Ryan Zimmerman: No. I mean, I think the coolest thing about that year was, like, every game, someone else did it. Like, nobody felt the pressure that they had to do it every game. So, like, when we - even in Game 7, when we got behind, like, I remember walking to the dugout and like - you talk about Howie - me and Howie were like someone'll - like, it's just a matter of time. Like, it was always that. It wasn't like, oh, man, we're behind. It was like, oh, we're behind. It's all right. We'll be ahead soon. Like, nobody would really say it, but everyone was thinking the same thing. Nobody panicked. It was just we - it's kind of like you knew - it was meant to be, I guess, is the best way. And like, that's why you say - we go up 2-0. We go in there, we beat their two best pitchers. Like, those - Gerrit Cole hadn't lost since, like, May, I don't think. We beat them. And everyone's like, oh, man, they're going to do this. And then we come home and get our ass kicked. 

Andrew Hammond: (Laughter). 

Ryan Zimmerman: Like, not even close. And... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Lost three straight, right? 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: At home, yeah. 

Ryan Zimmerman: And I remember, after that game, Davey - we all - you know, we came back in, and a bunch of us talked, just - not like a panic meeting or anything like that, but just like a hey, everyone - like, you know, what just happened? And, you know - and I remember that, like, one thing I said in that meeting was - I said in - you know, in May, if I told every one of you in this room that all we had to do is win one series - just win 2 out of 3 games to win the World Series, everyone - we would have laughed in each other's faces. And I said, we're in the - like, this is a dream - like a dream spot for us to be in. You know, no one would have thought we were here. And now all we have to do is win 2 out of 3 games. We won 2 out of 3 games, like, every single time since July. So I was like, we're in a good spot, you know? And we had, like, our pitching lined up pretty well. And for that team, doing something stupid, like winning all four road games, was just, I think, how it... 

Andrew Hammond: (Laughter). 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...Had to happen... 

Andrew Hammond: Had to go with it. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...With the way that year went, yeah. So it made sense. 

Andrew Hammond: Did you ever have that feeling that the Nats were going to do it much earlier on? 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Well, I mean, I think that, you know, the - again, as someone who was, you know, went to so many games - the start was just not what the team was all about. The team was way too good. But when you look back at it - and, you know, that's a lot of adversity they're going through. And, you know, then they'd come back, and they're at 500, and there's going forward. And as a - as two things, as a fan, but also as someone who - you know, I studied leadership. And I was a leader at CIA, and I loved the notion, always, of leading kind of elite, high-performance teams. But the one thing I saw from that 2019 team, you know, was, again, not only overcoming adversity, not only the talent, but they were loose. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: You know, and there's an expression we use, you know, in the intelligence and special operation world, which is, you know, dare to fail. You know, so they were playing loose, which is really important. And then, finally, it's just the notion of that team was a family. I mean, it was so obvious, you know, from sitting in the stands all the time. But having that notion of - you know, this group is so tight, and they're selfless, and they understand it's going to take everyone. And so, you know, you start getting that feeling as well. And, you know, there was, you know, so many moments that could have swung, you know, each way - again, that, you know, that wild-card game was just - it was extraordinary. But I remember far different being a fan. But even down, you know, when you all were down 3-2, people, you know, were still fairly confident. And, again, that final game was just amazing. But you know, there's - if you study elite, high-performing teams, there's so much of that makeup of that 2019 Nats squad that kind of applies - you know, certainly in my old world. But it was - really, it was a joy to watch. It was a lot of fun. 

Ryan Zimmerman: I think the dare to fail thing is enormous. It's one of my favorite - the Teddy Roosevelt man in the arena. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Yep. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Like, you have to have not just one or two guys in baseball. Like, I would want - you put me up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, I'll take it every single time. Even if I feel like I have zero chance, I'm - I want to be there because, like, that's - the only way you can be the guy is to be in that situation. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Yeah. 

Ryan Zimmerman: I mean, there's a really good chance you're going to fail, but I'd rather take the chance that I'd succeed, and I can be the guy who wins the game. You can't do it if you're not in the situation, and I think we had so many of those guys - and you need that because, if you only have a couple of those guys, it's very rare that those certain guys come up in those situations, and I think throughout that whole run, we had guys who didn't care if they failed. They wanted to be in the big situation because they love the opportunity to be the hero. And the opportunity to be the hero also has the opportunity to be... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: That's right. Yeah. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...The GOAT or whatever... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...You want to call it, but I'll take that chance every time. I remember - and we played the Cubs one year, when Joe Maddon was still there, and Bryce was hitting in front of me. And Bryce was on fire. Joe Maddon intentionally walked Bryce - I think it was four times that game. And I - no joke, I think I left 13 people on base that game. I got out every single time, and the media afterwards was like, you know, what are you - what were you thinking? 

Marc Polymeropoulos: What happened? 

Ryan Zimmerman: I said, well, if I was Joe Maddon, I would do the same thing. I said, I would walk him to get to me. And I said, you know, I didn't do it today, and, you know, I ended the interview with - I said, but I hope Joe does it again tomorrow 'cause I'd rather be in that situation and fail than not be in this situation. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: You know, you have to have that mentality in these professions. It's almost, you know - you raise your hand, and you say, you know, send me. And I'll tell you that, you know, man in the arena quote by Teddy Roosevelt - I had that mounted in a frame in my office in the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. 

Ryan Zimmerman: It's the best. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Yep. 

Ryan Zimmerman: The best. To me - and everyone knows I - I'm trying to think of a nice way to say this without - so that is my, like - I think it's the media and players now. And I like media. I think there's great journalists. I think there's great - but so many people nowadays are so quick to judge and point out failure, and they've never been in this situation. And that's not - I'm not picking on beat writers or people who maybe played baseball until high school. Like, they love the game of baseball, and they're important for the game of baseball. I'm not saying that these people are bad people. But every now and then, take a step back and - you have to - like, if I strike out with the bases loaded, you have to write I strike out with the bases loaded, but these people have never gone through the stuff that we're going through and are sometimes the quickest people to point out failure or to blame people or to write - you could write it in a nicer way. So that's kind of, you know, what I love about that quote. But yeah, it's just a - it's a great quote. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: And, you know, it's almost - you know, you have to make the uncomfortable comfortable. And I used to say that all the time. Again, it's putting yourself in, you know, high-stress, you know, kind of high-fail situations, but being OK with it. And because, also, you also have done a lot to prepare for that. And that's one of the - you know, it's another, I think, comparison I make between the two professions is there's processes at the CIA. You know, when you prepare for an operation, you prepare for a team to go to a war zone - same thing with baseball. And if you feel, you know, in your soul - if you know, OK, you know, I've worked out all summer, I've eaten - I eat great. I've done all my - you know, my bullpens, if you're a pitcher - if I've been hitting every day. Same thing with the CIA. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: If you know you've done all these things to prepare, then, when you're in that situation, you know - hey, you know, it might not go so well in the end, but there's nothing else I could have done. And the other part, too, is that there's the - kind of the cool part about a feeling inside is, if you actually are OK with stepping up like that - jumping into the arena, knowing when you're going to fail - like, that's almost liberating 'cause, first of all, not many people do that or are willing to do that. But I think Ryan's right. And then, you know, people cast a lot of stones. People can criticize when, ultimately, there is something that goes wrong, but I bet a lot of those beat writers would not even step one foot in that batter's box... 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah, and... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: ...In front of 40,000 people. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...I couldn't grammatically correctly write an article either... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...So I wouldn't judge their writing, you know? But I mean, I think, obviously, I'm not saying nobody should judge anybody, but, you know, maybe take a step back and have... 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Right. 

Ryan Zimmerman: ...A little bit of compassion for both sides. 

Andrew Hammond: And one of the things that I wanted to ask you, Marc - for the teams that you were a part of, did you have clutch hitters and pinch hitters? Were there people on your teams that you were like, wow, I need someone to dig us out of a hole here, and you would turn to someone - or maybe that person was you? 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Well, I mean - well, sure. I mean, you know - look, every team is different. And so, you know, I talked about the importance of the glue guys and some of the support personnel, but you do have kind of your pipe hitters, you know, or, you know, operations officers who you knew you could really count on for some things. And that's - you know, that's the essence of making up a - kind of a high-performance unit. I mean, you know, for myself - and again, I do have - I am humble and - 'cause I've had tremendous success and some really awful failure that I've talked to you about before, you know? But there were times in my career where, you know, the CIA asked me, you know, specifically to do something because they knew I had the talent and skill to do it. And, you know, sometimes it did work out well, and, you know, I'm certainly proud of that. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: But it's also - you know, it just doesn't happen overnight. It's about, you know - it's a lot of training. It's a lot of experience. And, you know, the one thing that I found - and, you know, I think it's probably the same in the baseball world - you know, the more experience you have, you know, the better off you're going to perform. It's hard for a rookie to have, you know, an incredible, you know, run throughout a, you know, 162-game season. Well, same thing for CIA. Brand new officers, you know, don't have that kind of experience. And so, you know, down the line, when you are kind of well-seasoned and then you're asked to do some things - sure, you know, there's times where I performed as I should have, and I'm extremely proud of it. And so, you know, it's - I can't tell the stories about it, but... 

Andrew Hammond: It's almost like you build up muscle memory. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Well, it's - so, you know, it's - and it's going to be the same thing again with baseball. It's - there were times at the end of my career where I was sitting overseas, you know, for the CIA, and I said, there's nothing that can happen today that I haven't experienced. You know, whether we catch a high-value target, whether we, you know, recruit a Russian diplomat, or the other hand, if, you know, one of my officers is hurt or, you know, injured or killed, perhaps; if I have a cranky ambassador; if the, you know, the king or queen of that country is mad - I mean, just all these things that could happen, I will have experienced it all before. And so there's a comfort in knowing that you are able to handle these situations. And again, it's the same thing if you've had, you know, several thousand at bats over season after season. 

Andrew Hammond: And one of the other interesting historical nuggets that I found just to throw out there - in 1970, the CIA director, Richard Helms, gave congressional testimony where it was photographs of Cuba, and he was pointing out that there were soccer fields, not baseball fields. And basically, the feeling was that because it was soccer fields, war was on the horizon with the Soviet Union because, he said, we have never seen anywhere where the Cubans are where there are not baseball fields because they're not soccer players - they're baseball players. So actually, the photographic interpreters thought that the likelihood of war was higher because soccer fields were there instead of baseball fields, and the Soviets were building up again in Cuba, which I thought you would find quite interesting. 

Ryan Zimmerman: I thought you were going to say it was because, you know, that soccer was a communist sport and baseball was capitalist, but, you know. 


Andrew Hammond: Maybe. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Sorry. I'm going to get everyone mad at me now (laughter). 

Andrew Hammond: And another parallel which I think is interesting is the signs or codes. So in espionage as well, you develop a way to try to securely and secretly communicate with people on your own team, but hide it from the other team. And that's exactly what happens in baseball. And in 2019, there's a very famous example with the Houston Astros on their sign stealing, and this story has long legs that continue to this day, right? The managers of the Tigers and the Red Sox, you know, are still there and, you know, the Mets lost a manager. So this story's still with us, but I just want to go to that because we've got a spy here and a baseball player here, so I thought this would be a good time to talk about it. 

Andrew Hammond: So I guess just to start off with Ryan, like - in the press, anyway, it says that this had been kicking around for a few years. People - they knew, but they didn't know that the Astros were up to something. So I just wondered if you could tell us a little bit more about the evolution of this idea that the Astros are cheating, how that sat with you. Like, so you know it's on your radar, but it maybe doesn't affect you, and then you're like, wow, we're - it looks like we're going to play the Astros in the World Series. Then - yeah, help us understand that journey of the - playing against the Houston Astros, who had these rumors swirling around them about sign stealing. 

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah, I think, you know, technology is great and really terrible in some instances. In, you know, baseball, the technology has really, I guess, grown over the last five or 10 years. And just like anything, people are going to try and take advantage of situations, and you're going to have people that are good people and people that, you know, push the limits. 

Ryan Zimmerman: And sign stealing's always been a part of baseball, and I think it goes back to probably the very beginning of baseball. But when you use technology and start doing things that aren't, you know, seen on the field or with the human eye and basically communicated or given from me to another player - you're bringing in a third party that's using a computer or a TV or your own camera feed or things like that - that's where - that's why this thing, and rightfully so, got so much attention because, you know, it's also the, you know, just the - you're messing with just the game of baseball. I mean, you know, fans are coming to a game to watch competition. They come to watch us play because we can do things that they can't do. And I'm not saying if you pick a fan out of the stands and tell him that Justin Verlander's throwing a fastball, they could hit it. But some of those guys might - someone might be - you're taking away our skill. Like, you're taking away what makes them want to come watch us. 

Ryan Zimmerman: So it's basically the integrity of the game is being challenged, and I think that's the biggest problem that we all had. I mean, obviously, the cheating and the sign stealing and all, you know, the technology and the whole way that they - you know, banging the trash can and all that stuff is awful. But I think, to me, it was just the integrity of the game. And for us baseball players, that's our livelihood. And if someone tries to challenge that, and then all of a sudden, everyone thinks that all of us are doing it, like, you're taking away what I'm special at. So I think that's why people got so angry about it. 

Ryan Zimmerman: You know, that being said, I can tell you many times where we've stolen signs, where we, you know, are with - you know, on the field. We talked about this a little bit before already, but, you know, if I'm on second base and we - veteran teams are really good at this. You just have to really watch it. You have to be careful. Like, if I'm on second base and I can see into the pitcher's glove and I can see him holding a change-up or I can see the catcher's signs and they get lazy and they don't do a good sequence or they even just maybe just put down one, like, we would have signed - like, if there was a runner on second and you know he's throwing a change-up, you just wiggle your thumb. And if you see that as a hitter, or you just kind of, like, bounce your shoulders up and down - I mean, everyone does this. And, you know, you can see certain things like that. And if you know a pitch that's coming, it could change the game. And even another instance for someone on our team, Strasburg, who - the MVP that year - he would come set right here, too high, and I'm at first base. And I could see every time he was throwing a change-up; so could the first base coach. So if it was a right-handed hitter up, the first base coach would either do this or do this or whatever. And if it was a left-handed hitter up, obviously, he couldn't see the first-base coach. So he would do it to the third-base coach. And then the third-base coach would do it to the left-hander. And I - you know, I would go in and I'd tell Stephen. And some of these pitchers, they're just not very good at - or they'll change it for a couple pitches. And then they kind of lose their thought process, and they go right back up. 

Ryan Zimmerman: So to me, that is perfectly legal and fine, sign stealing. That's part of the game of baseball. And, you know, the other teams should just get better. But using your own camera feed to look at the, you know, the catcher's signs and then having a, basically, an algorithm that figures out what sign they're using within, like, two pitches and then having someone down in the dugout with their own TV looking at the signs and relaying a noise, like, that's not - I mean, I think it's pretty easy to see that that's a lot different than the other things. So that's why everyone was so mad about it. And I think, for a lot of those players, like, once you're in it, you almost convince yourself that, like, well, other teams are probably doing this or, you know, if we don't do it, someone else will, or like - so I think what made a lot of us so upset is nobody stepped up and said, hey, this is wrong. Like, not because it's wrong for like - it's wrong for the game of baseball, it's wrong for the fans, it's wrong, like I said, for the integrity of the game. I think that was the biggest thing with me. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: So I - you know, I - the conversation is really interesting because you'd think that, as a former CIA officer, you know, I would - you know, I would advocate, you know, any means necessary. And of course, actually, I probably would when it comes to our adversaries. But the story is a little bit different because I really agree with Ryan because there's - you know, there were some things that we preached and practice at CIA and that had to do with honesty and integrity. And, you know, when you walk into CIA headquarters, on the right is our memorial wall, which is sacred. It has the stars of the officers who were killed. But on the left, there's a biblical verse and it says, and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. And it's the idea of being - of having honesty, integrity and just the notion - I had a former boss of mine who was in the Counterterrorism Center and she would just say, you know, always do the right thing. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: And so Ryan brings up a really interesting point, not with all that - all - what had, you know, the - kind of the technical aspects of the sign stealing, which is interesting and kind of fun, but it's the idea that these teams all knew and collectively did that and nobody stepped up. And one of the things at CIA that I would always try to say is, you know, when you see something that's wrong, you have to say something. Because, you know, this is not going to - you know, this is not fine wine. It's not going to age well and get better over time. And so I think what upset - you know, what upset me about the whole notion of the sign stealing is, you know, there's honor among thieves, but this wasn't honorable. And so, ultimately, it was just the idea that entire teams were kind of aware of this. And, as I said, one of the things that's interesting is that it didn't come out, you know, as early as it probably should've. You know, someone should've said something. But again, it's that collective notion, well, everyone's doing it. That's not - that just wasn't right. 

Marc Polymeropoulos: Now, the - you know, the actual mechanics of it, all the things they went through, kind of interesting and kind of, you know, from a, you know, layperson's perspective, you know, it's - these are kind of novel ways. But here's the other thing, too - they got caught. So they were you know, they - maybe they were a little too clever in the end. But again, going back to honesty, integrity - really important principles that I think were violated. And that's something that I really tried to live my whole career and kind of teach others to do as well. 

Andrew Hammond: Thanks for listening to this episode of "SpyCast." Go to our webpage, where you can find links to further resources, detailed show notes and full transcripts. We have over 500 episodes in our back catalogue for you to explore. Please follow the show on Twitter @IntlSpyCast and share your favorite quotes and insights or start a conversation. If you have any additional feedback, please email us at spycast@spymuseum.org. I'm your host, Dr. Andrew Hammond, and you can connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @SpyHistorian. This show is brought to you from the home of the world's preeminent collection of intelligence and espionage-related artifacts, The International Spy Museum. The "SpyCast" team includes Mike Mincey and Memphis Vaughn III. See you for next week's show.