Ralph Sasson, The Gift That Keeps On Giving

One would think that if you had your case dismissed for not adhering to a judge’s instructions about keeping things under seal that you would MAYBE think twice about publicly posting a copy of your own deposition on Youtube. And also, cutting your own “best of” version of said deposition.

But the one thing we know about Ralph Sasson is that he seemingly doesn’t ever think once, let alone twice. In any case…

Here’s the long version.

A couple of things in case you ever end up deposed:

1. You may not want to wear a Miami hoodie. Typically you should dress up for a deposition.

2. “You heard of money ball? this is dummy ball.” Don’t make deposition jokes. It never goes well. (Around 1:17:00)

3. Don’t call the attorneys questioning you “retards”. (Also around 1:17:00)

4. Don’t claim you don’t know what your lawyer is thinking if you are your lawyer. (In the “best of” cut)

5. Don’t invent your own legal theory called “fraudulent impression.” (1:22:30)

6. “You are attempting to sue CAA (Braun’s agent), yes or no?”

“I don’t know” (near the end)
I don’t either Ralph. I don’t either.

Brewers Top 10 Prospects – Midseason Report

Its been an up and down year for the Baby Brewers (that’s my nickname for the Minor League System). Compiling data from my network of scouts is exhausting work, but I’m happy to present my top 10 prospects from 2014:

1. Nick Ramirez – 1B, Huntsville – Has been IBB’d 6 times already this year in the MINOR LEAGUES. You know how many times Barry Bonds got IBB’d in the Minor Leagues? ZERO. Now we here at RRSMB aren’t saying Ramirez is the next Barry Bonds, but the feedback from opposing Southern League managers suggests he is feared more than Bonds was at the same level. 

2Andy Hillis – Pitcher, Arizona – His K rate of 22.0 per 9 is more than double that of Felix Hernandez (9.6). Has a unique delivery where he snaps it like a football long snapper. We’ll see what happens as he moves up the ranks, but rookie ball hitters are having a hard time picking up his release point.

3. Hector Gomez – SS, Nashville: After leading Huntsville with 16 sac bunts last year, Gomez has focused on HBP this year, getting drilled 6 times already in 2014. His 80 grade HBP tool translates well in my MLE projection system.

4. Juan De Los Santos – OF/1B/2B, DSL Brewers – Bit of a sleeper here, he’s run into shockingly bad luck this year. 7.8% of the balls he has hit in play have resulted in GIDP. That sort of GIDPBABIP can’t continue, so look for him to shoot up the prospect rankings in the next few years. His heat map is just a huge burnt orange blob, that’s the type of potential we’re talking about here.

5Chris Razo – Pitcher, Wisconsin: Flashes a plus plus screwball, a plus knuckle curve and fringe-average eephus. He’s struck out 11.1 K/9 thus far, better than Felix Hernandez (9.6)

6. Milan Post Catcher and DH, Arizona – Best Dutch prospect in the organization. Despite wearing wooden cleats at all times, he’s hit two doubles in 2014.

7. Nathan Orf – OF, Nashville – Leads the Org with 4 sac flies in 2014. With the struggles the MLB team has had with runners on 3B and less than two outs, expect a possible call up later this year. His Sac Fly ability has the potential to actualize at the MLB level and we see him as a 2nd division starter.

8. Tom Gorzelanny – Pitcher, Nashville: Made his triumphant return to the minors, giving up only 2 runs in 15.2 IP this year, spliting time between Nashville and Brevard. Prospect to keep an eye on.

9. Tommy Toldeo, Pitcher, Huntsville – Fun fact, NOT from Toledo. Carries a 39 K / 1 IBB ratio. He has finished 10 games without a save due to his strong belief that closers aren’t things.

10. Natanael Mejia – Catcher, Helena: Has hit 10 more minor league HRs than I have. A guy tried to steal on him earlier in the year and he got him out. Has a 21/7 BB/GIDP ratio, which projects out to a .897 OPS at the major league level once his tools actualize.




Brewers Base Running

There are certain things fans of every team think their favorite team is bad at – driving in the guy from 3rd with less than 2 outs, hitting with runners in scoring position, moving runners over, striking out in big situations, overall defense (most teams), terrible bench guys, and base running.

The last one is relevant in the Brewer world as they had a rough go of it on the base paths last night. Carlos Gomez was picked off 2B early in the game. Jean Segura was thrown out by 30 feet trying to go from 1st to 3rd on a single after getting a terrible jump and perhaps fatally, Logan Schafer got nailed at 3rd trying to advance on a ball hit to the SS in the 8th inning.

So of course last night the Brewers were the worst base running team on the planet, but are they any good at base running overall? Are they terrible?

Things the Brewers seem good at to the casual fan (aka me):

  1. They do a good job of grabbing the extra base when there is a play at the plate. Its almost automatic that if a there is a play at the plate on a single, the guy who hit the siingle gets to second base.
  2. Carlos Gomez is amazing on the base paths. He will have the occasional high profile mistake (like last night) but the amount of extra bases he’s able to grab is great. Earlier this year, from second base, I saw him watch a grounder to 3B, wait for the 3B to throw it to 1B and sneak over and take 3B anyways. Incredible.
  3. They had a rough start to the year stealing bases, realized the SBs weren’t happening and have picked their spots better, going 25-31 since June 1st.
  4. I feel like most Brewer fans would disagree, but I like Ed Sedar’s work at 3B. He generally does a good job of knowing the game situation and realizing the value in trying to scoring a guy from third with 2 outs. I’m often surprised at how many people would rather hold a guy at 3B and take a chance with the next guy getting a base hit rather than challenging the defense to make multiple good throws in order to get a guy out at home. You never remember all the times a player scored from 3B or when it easily worked because someone missed a cut-off or wasn’t close on the play at the plate.

Things the Brewers are terrible at to the casual fan:

  1. It seems like they get thrown out way too much on dumb mental mistakes. I’m fine making the occasional aggressive play, trying to score from 3B and getting thrown out happens, but running from 2B to 3B on a ball hit to the SS or taking off for home on a grounder directly to the drawn in 3B is enough to drive a man crazy.
  2. Gomez and Segura are very fast, the rest of the team is painfully slow. Overbay, Reynolds, Ramirez, Injured Braun and Davis are super slow, Lucroy is sorta slow and Weeks/Scooter are OK. They do what they can but with slow guys they’re only able to put so much pressure on the defense with aggressive base running.
  3. They’re not prolific base stealers. Segura and Gomez will take the occasional base but that’s about it. With Gomez getting older and better at hitting he’s taken fewer chances. Segura struggles to get on base, Braun struggles to get on the field and exchanging Aoki for Davis has limited the damage they’ve been able to do on the bases in past years.
  4. The contact play seemed like it hurt them earlier in the year but RRR has cut down on it, or maybe its just working and I’m not noticing.

They actually have base running stats to track a lot of this stuff. These stats account for SB success and taking extra bases via Sac Flies, advancing on ground balls, etc.

Baseball Prospectus has the Brewers rated 2nd overall in the majors at this stat and Frangraphs has the Brewers as the 4th best team in baseball. The TOOTBLAN database is pretty awesome and brings up bad memories, but hard to draw any conclusions from it.

It’d be fun to point out how wrong those stats are, but outside of the broad parameters of them its hard to tell the exact formula – how context is accounted for, game score, inning, etc. They run into the same struggles defensive metrics do, not every “ground ball, RF” is created equal. My guess is a lot of the context is left out, but that’s true of most stats.

We can look at previous years. The Brewers were 15th last year and 14th the year before that in the BP rankings. They were 20th and 5th in the Fangraphs ratings during the same time.

The smaller sample of 2014 seems to be a bit of an outlier from past years with personal you wouldn’t expect an outlier from, so perhaps their looks (ie Aramis lumbering around the bases) and the occasional high profile misadventure distract from what is a great base running team. I suspect they’re probably not as good as the rankings, yet not nearly as bad as you would have thought had you checked Brewers Twitter last night.

That said, it can and has cost them games, or at minimum substantially hurt their odds of winning individual games. If Khris Davis drops a routine fly ball in the 8th inning that allows a run to score, we’d justifiably blame that for the reason they lost. I’m fine doing that with dumb base running (hi Logan) when applicable. Some mistakes aren’t done trying to be aggressive or gain an advantage, they’re just dumb mistakes.

Speaking of base running, it relates to my favorite Brett Lawrie story I heard a while back that I’m choosing to believe is true: back in 2009 during his first spring training they had every minor league player from all levels on the field together and instructors were going over base running basics, saying stuff like “Macha likes when you do this, Macha wants guys to focus on that, etc” Lawrie speaks up, in front of everyone, and says “who the fuck is Macha and who gives a shit what he thinks about base running?” Like I said, I’m choosing to believe this is true.

The All-Star Game is Terrible. Let’s Break It.

Yesterday we got some of the inevitable “you fans are dumb” articles. It’s absolutely true of course. The list of terrible All-Stars voted in by fans is lengthy. Of course, the list of bad players selected by other players and managers is also pretty terrible. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Americans are terrible at voting, and since we know we’re already lousy at this, we may as well be lousy on purpose.

This has happened before. In 1957 Reds fans stuffed All-Star ballot boxes and managed to get Reds selected for every position but first base. After this the vote was taken away from fans until 1970. Brewers fans have been a constant source of chaos in fan voting in the past and this year is no exception so far with almost every Brewer player in striking distance. There is no better time to continue to vote in your favorite player. By which I mean all of the Brewers including Rickie Weeks and Jean Segura. So why should you proceed with this little act of performance art?

1. The All-Star Game is boring, but Brewer games are fun, so let’s turn this into a Brewer game.

ESPN shows get a ton of mileage over arguing whether the All-Star Game counts or if it’s just an exhibition where Larry Walker can wear his helmet backwards and Randy Johnson can throw behind him and aww isn’t it all just too damn cute.

Larry Walker

And once it ended in a tie. The addition of home field advantage in the World Series is no incentive at all as it barely ever affects the World Series anyway, and almost none of these players will be personally impacted in any way. Maybe if the Brewers are all playing together it will actually be fun.

2. We’ve all wondered what would happen if a real team played an All-Star Team.

Let’s find out!

3. It is not some huge moral crime to not vote in the “best” players.

It is, after all, an exhibition. As fans we’ve been empowered to make it whatever we want, and if some player has a bonus tied to making the team, well boohoo. We should use our power to do all sorts of wacky stuff with the All-Star game. All lefties! Vote for the lowest WAR regulars! The all defense team! Let’s see some of that. I personally voted for the worst AL team possible to face my all-Brewer NL All-Stars.

4. Major League Baseball’s attempt to make this a “real” game is awful and they deserve to be told “no”.

If you actually want to make this a real game may I suggest huge cash prizes? Incentives have to actually be incentives, you can’t just throw out the Flint Megabowl and hope to get people excited. We should treat it with all the respect it deserves.

5. Hall of Fame arguments

Surely one of the most annoying arguments for any given potential Hall of Famer is the argument that they made X number of All-Star teams. Players have made All-Star teams while seriously injured, while retired, while sub-par Yankees. It’s already a stupid argument, but we should all go ahead and make it that much dumber. “Remember when Rickie Weeks made the All-Star team as the short end of a platoon?” “Remember when Jean Segura made the All-Star team with a .271 OBP?”

6. All of the fun stories.

This is probably the best reason to do it. A lot of people will be apoplectic if enough Brewers make it, and it’s fun to read self-serious apoplectic diatribes over what amounts to an internet poll about an exhibition game. It will provide me with material, and that is probably reason enough. If you’re one of those people who wants ESPN to cover your team, well, this will do the trick.

7. MLB tells you to do it!

See here:

“With online polls open until 11:59 p.m. ET on July 3, there’s still time to make sure your favorite player gets the starting nod.”

Todd Frazier might be having the best season at 3rd base but he’s not my favorite player. In fact due to some past roto seasons I kind of hate him. I want Mark Reynolds in the game. He’s my favorite.

You’ve got until midnight tonight, we’re the Evil Team of Evil, let’s burn this sucker to the ground. Vote early and vote often.





Bullpen Watch 2014

We had a look at the devastating effect Wei Chung Wang has had on bullpen usage a few weeks ago. With the official halfway point of the season upon us, a look at where the bullpen is projected to be at by the end of the year using the RRSMB patented formula: current innings x 2.

K-Rod – 80.2 IP
Will Smith – 75
Zach Duke – 62
Brandon Kintzler – 60
Rob Wooten – 50

Again for reference, the 2011 team:

Axford – 73
Loe- 72
K-Rod 71
Bunch of other guys with less innings

K-Rod is certainly up there this year, which is fine because we don’t care about K-Rod.

Will Smith is on the high end as well, probably something to keep an eye on. The rest of the bullpen looks about average in terms of usage.

We’re through 81 games with an empty roster spot with 56 more to go until rosters expand and the Brewers finally have room for both Fiers and Figaro instead of just one of them, or maybe Logan Schafer can bring his good looks back to Miller Park. The possibilities of marginal players available for the Brewers to bring up are endless..

This concludes the mid-season BULLPEN WATCH.

Better Ask A Lawyer: WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE Edition

We write this post with heavy hearts.

Yesterday, you see, we lost a great friend. After an all-too-brief existence, the defamation lawsuit filed against Ryan Braun by intrepid online law student (and RRSMB commenter) Ralph Sasson was unceremoniously kicked to the curb. We gleefully covered the suit’s filing in this space last year, we closely followed its twists and turns over the last 10 months (read: we totally forgot it was still alive until like 36 hours ago), and now, with its passing, Paul and I slap on our lawyer hats once again for our latest and greatest edition of BETTER ASK A LAWYER.

So what happened yesterday?

The long and short of it: Ralph Sasson’s case against Ryan Braun and Ryan Braun’s agent and Ryan Braun’s agent’s agency and Ryan Braun’s hair got thrown out of court. That result, in and of itself, wasn’t surprising.

Yeah. Didn’t you guys tell us last summer that was going to happen? What took so long?

We did. And we were wrong about how quickly it would happen — we figured the case wouldn’t survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, which is legalese for: “Even assuming everything you say is true, you don’t have a case.” Sasson got past that stage of the game, which allowed him to begin what we call the discovery process: requesting documents from Braun and Braun’s agent, asking them to admit to certain things, and, most importantly, taking depositions of some of the defendants. And that was ultimately Sasson’s undoing: the judge found yesterday (among other things) that Sasson was being such an unrepentant shithead (my words, not the judge’s) during discovery that his case had to be dismissed.

Oh. What was he doing?

Lots of stuff. You might remember that, right at the beginning of the case, we noted how Sasson’s first set of discovery requests to Braun were completely ridiculous and irrelevant; he asked Braun to admit he cheated on tests and his girlfriend and his ex-girlfriends and Aaron Rodgers and didn’t actually like Remetees and so on. None of that, of course, matters when the issue in the lawsuit is whether Braun said something factually untrue about Sasson that caused people to think less of Sasson.

Probably not surprisingly, things, um, escalated from there: because Sasson was making these puzzling requests and, apparently, seeking to depose people who had nothing to do with his case, the judge did a couple of very unusual things earlier this year: one was to conduct the depositions in the judge’s chambers so he could immediately rule on objections, which any lawyer will tell you is practically unheard of. (This is what depositions, conducted without judges, usually look like.) The other was to order that filings had to be made under seal — which means that documents, depositions, etc, were only to be seen by the judge, lawyers, and parties, and not made available or disclosed to the public.

Ralph Sasson, the judge found, wasn’t very good at following that order.

Why did the judge put all of this under seal in the first place?

You will be shocked to learn that Sasson appeared more interested in fishing for embarrassing facts about Braun than he was about actually proving his case. The court was worried that all of these weird and totally irrelevant allegations would prejudice a jury against Braun and so he ordered everything — including the deposition of Braun’s agent, Nez Balelo — under seal. In its order, the court found that Sasson not only revealed the content of that sealed deposition to the General Counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Association, but he also lied about what Balelo actually said (more on that later).*

* This is, ironically, defamation.

The judge also says that Sasson was making bizarre objections to discovery requests from Braun’s lawyers. Just out of curiosity: did Sasson attempt at any point to assert the attorney-client privilege even though that privilege covers communications between an attorney and his/her client, and Sasson is a non-lawyer representing himself?

You bet he did.

What did the court think of that?

“…they are for the most part, nonsensical, and without a valid legal basis.”

How does objecting to discovery work, anyway?

In litigation, both sides serve requests on each other seeking documents that will help them prove their case. The evidence sought must be non-privileged (meaning it’s not something you told your lawyer or your pastor or your wife), and either relevant to that party’s claim or defense, or reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. In short, you can’t just go asking for everything that anyone has ever said or written. Both sides are allowed to make objections and those objections usually have to do with the breadth of the request (i.e., you’re asking for too much stuff), the availability of the evidence (i.e., we don’t have this and can’t get it, or you have just as much access to this as we do), or the privileged nature of that evidence (i.e., this is something my lawyer wrote to me). In almost every case, there is usually some minor battling over discovery, but by and large judges hate to get involved in discovery disputes and both sides usually come to some sort of agreement on the subject.

What they do not do is write the following, which Sasson submitted in his responses to the requests from Braun’s lawyers:

“Plaintiff’s responses shall not be deemed to constitute admissions that any statement or characterization in Interrogatories/Requests for Production/Request for Admission is accurate or complete.”

I know when people see legalese their eyes tend to glaze over, but that’s not legalese. That’s barely English. That’s just nonsense. Doesn’t mean a damn thing. I’m not sure what book he copied it out of but he should take it out back and burn it as soon as possible. The court had this to say:

“The verbiage of General Objection No. 3 is incoherent and lacks any apparent legal foundation.”

But Sasson’s single biggest issue wasn’t his nonsensical writing. In his complaint, he claimed he had evidence that Braun defamed him in writing. (We call this libel. We call defamatory statements that are made orally slander.) When Braun’s side asked him for these documents in discovery, Sasson objected to turning them over. You … you can’t, you know, do that.

Braun’s side filed a motion to compel (which is what you file when you think someone is impermissibly holding something back) and Sasson provided a printout of a Facebook page containing a private conversation with one of his friends (and nothing from Braun). Finally, Sasson admitted he had nothing else.

So all he had to show that Ryan Braun had defamed him in writing was a Facebook message from someone who’s NOT Ryan Braun?

Yep. And because that’s all he had, he then tried to change track and use a legal theory called “compelled self-publication,” which is used sometimes (and not with very much success) when, say, a former employee wants to sue an employer for defamation. You’ll recall, young padawans, that when you want to sue someone for defamation, one of the things you have to prove is that the defendant published (that is, made public to one or more people) the false information. So if, for example, your former employer fired you because another employee accused you of trying to have sex with the toaster in the break room, and you claimed it wasn’t true (because, honestly, who tries to put his hoo-hoo-dilly in a toaster?), you might try to sue your former employer under a theory of “compelled self-publication,” which gets you around the issue of your employer not publishing the information. In other words, you’re saying: When I’m now applying for jobs, and I list you as a former employer, I have to tell prospective employers that I got fired because someone said I was trying to boink the toaster. I’m COMPELLED to make your false accusations public.

Sasson, it seems, was trying to argue that the defamatory writing from Braun was (deep breath) Sasson’s own lawsuit, which contained Braun’s alleged defamatory (oral) statements.

Did that fly?

About as well as that toaster you were lubing up with KY.

What’s the worst thing Sasson did during the case, in your opinion?

Legally speaking, all of this stuff is pretty bad, but my favorite (keeping in mind Ryan Braun’s Jewish background) is probably this statement from the court’s order:

“Sasson’s habit of making Jewish jokes and references to the Jewish attorneys involved in this case is particularly inappropriate.”

Sasson also sought sanctions against one of Braun’s attorneys for saying “shit” in the hallway following a hearing while simultaneously swearing like a sailor throughout the duration of this case, including during his own deposition.

Bronze medal: the court also notes that Sasson made this “threat” to opposing counsel in a voicemail:

“I’m a reasonable cat, but don’t come at me with unreasonable shit. “Cause when you start acting unreasonable, I’m going to act unreasonable, too. And just like I told Jeremiah, when I get unreasonable I start to discriminate indiscriminately.” As FJM’s Ken Tremendous once wrote, phrases like “I start to discriminate indiscriminately” are poetry for the half-wit.

Man, this seems really out there. Nothing involved with the case could be crazier than this. Could it?

Make no mistake: Sasson’s shenanigans are totally nuts, and my face was reacquainted with my palm at several points while reading the judge’s recitation of what Sasson’s been up to for the last few months. But none of that stuff is the wackiest thing to happen in the case. Nope: it was footnote 2 of the judge’s order that left my jaw on the floor, where the judge mentioned that during his deposition, Nez Balelo acknowledged that he’d hired (and had the approval of the head of the MLBPA to hire) Sasson to help with Braun’s appeal.


Last summer, we were scratching our heads when we wrote: “The high-powered agent for very, very rich baseball players reaches out to a dude living in Milwaukee with no apparent training as a private investigator who describes himself as a law student … to do recon on one of those very, very rich baseball players, and (1) dude doesn’t immediately realize that it’s Braun?, and (2) for emphasis’ sake, what the hell?”

And yet: it sounds like that’s exactly what happened.

Again, and for the sake of emphasis: WHAT IN THE BLUE FUCK.

The judge said at the end of the order that he’s dismissing the case “with prejudice.” That seems bad.

That is bad. When a case gets dismissed, the judge has two options: one is to give the person who filed the case an opportunity for a do-over, to correct the mistakes he’d made and re-start the case. We call that a dismissal without prejudice. The other option, and the one that’s reserved for the cases involving the most egregious conduct, is a dismissal with prejudice, which means: you’re done. Your case is gone, and you can’t file it again.

It’s a very severe penalty, and, generally speaking, you only see it in cases where the plaintiff has gone really out of bounds — by withholding evidence that the other side is absolutely entitled to see, by willfully and repeatedly disobeying the court’s orders, by pursuing litigation for vexatious (taken from the Latin word for: just to annoy the piss out of) purposes.

Leaving voicemails for the defense lawyers referring to them as “cupcake”?

Yeah, that too.

Listen: lawyers — and especially highly-paid civil litigation lawyers — are not the most pleasant people in the world. We’re generally (1) aggressive Type A personalities who aren’t very good at listening and (2) miserable, not only because of our massive student loan debt, long hours, and difficult clients, but also because we spend most of our time dealing with aggressive Type A personalities who aren’t very good at listening. Ask any lawyer who’s been around for a few years and you’ll probably hear that there’s been a marked increase in incivility between opposing counsel (and, hell, between judges and counsel, and even judges and other judges) recently. Lawyers are just kind of dicks to each other, is what I’m saying.

All of that said: I’ve never heard someone call opposing counsel “cupcake” before. As Lawrence once said in Office Space: “I believe you’d get your ass kicked sayin’ some shit like that, man.”

Suffice it to say: based on all of this, the judge found that what Ralph Sasson was doing was way, way out of line, so he invoked what amounts to the nuclear option.

What does that mean for Sasson, going forward? He can try to pursue an appeal of the judge’s decision, but that’s generally a tall task. The better option, in my mind, would be to accept our standing invitation to join RRSMB as our senior legal and cupcake correspondent.

Until then, though, we say: good night, Sweet Prince. Thanks for the memories.

Power Ranking the Wall of Honor Attendees

Ranking my excitement level for the former players in the house tonight. Bonus points if the players haven’t been back much or if they played during the 90s. Negative points if they were responsible for destroying the team during the 90s.

  1. Hank Aaron
  2. Bob Uecker
  3. Ben Sheets
  4. Teddy Higuera
  5. Greg Vaughn
  6. Rollie Fingers
  7. BJ Surhoff
  8. Geoff Jenkins
  9. Sixto Lezcano
  10. Robin Yount
  11. Charlie Moore
  12. Mike Caldwell
  13. Cal Eldred
  14. Bob Wickman
  15. Cecil Cooper
  16. Moose Haas
  17. Ben Oglivie
  18. Ted Simmons
  19. Jim Gantner
  20. Don Money
  21. Richie Sexson
  22. Mike Fetters
  23. Daryl Hamilton
  24. Bill Wegman
  25. Fernando Vina
  26. Gorman Thomas
  27. Dan Plesac
  28. Jamie Navarro
  29. Ken Sanders
  30. Jeromy Burnitz
  31. Jim Slaton
  32. Johnny Briggs
  33. Bill Travers
  34. Jim Colborn
  35. Bud Selig
  36. Craig Counsell
  37. Mark Loretta
  38. Bill Castro
  39. Jerry Augustine
  40.  Sal Bando