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The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First [Hardcover]

Jonah Keri
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 8 2011
What happens when three financial industry whiz kids and certified baseball nuts take over an ailing major league franchise and implement the same strategies that fueled their success on Wall Street? In the case of the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, an American League championship happens—the culmination of one of the greatest turnarounds in baseball history.

In The Extra 2%, financial journalist and sportswriter Jonah Keri chronicles the remarkable story of one team’s Cinderella journey from divisional doormat to World Series contender. When former Goldman Sachs colleagues Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Silverman assumed control of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2005, it looked as if they were buying the baseball equivalent of a penny stock. But the incoming regime came armed with a master plan: to leverage their skill at trading, valuation, and management to build a model twenty-first-century franchise that could compete with their bigger, stronger, richer rivals—and prevail.

Together with “boy genius” general manager Andrew Friedman, the new Rays owners jettisoned the old ways of doing things, substituting their own innovative ideas about employee development, marketing and public relations, and personnel management. They exorcized the “devil” from the team’s nickname, developed metrics that let them take advantage of undervalued aspects of the game, like defense, and hired a forward-thinking field manager as dedicated to unconventional strategy as they were. By quantifying the game’s intangibles—that extra 2% that separates a winning organization from a losing one—they were able to deliver to Tampa Bay something that Billy Beane’s “Moneyball” had never brought to Oakland: an American League pennant.

A book about what happens when you apply your business skills to your life’s passion, The Extra 2% is an informative and entertaining case study for any organization that wants to go from worst to first.

Frequently Bought Together

The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First + Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos
Price For Both: CDN$ 38.87


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Review

“The rise of the Rays over the last half-decade has been so improbable it seems as if it was done by magic. It wasn’t. It took hard work, know-how, luck, and—as the title of this book suggests—those little moves on the margins that make all the difference. THE EXTRA 2% is far from a financial research paper, though—it is a fun, lively, and very smart read that might just make you into a Rays fan.” —Will Leitch, author of Are We Winning?

“Jonah Keri has given us a fascinating look at how the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays became winners. THE EXTRA 2% is a captivating book if you love baseball, but it’s an even more captivating book if you love success.” —Joe Posnanski, senior writer, Sports Illustrated

“Tampa Bay winning the American League East ahead of the Yankees and the Red Sox twice in three years is one of the most underappreciated sports accomplishments of the last twenty years. Jonah Keri has written a combination business book and wonderful collection of anecdotes that should allow the reader to easily answer the question ‘What was Tampa Bay thinking?’ as well as understand how difficult it will always be for a team in that market to open its competitive window for longer than three years at a time.” —Peter Gammons, three-time National Sportswriter of the Year

“The Tampa Bay Rays—with their ma-and-pa-sized budget—have gone head to head with baseball’s two superpowers, the Yankees and the Red Sox. In the superb THE EXTRA 2%, Jonah Keri explains how and why in a way that will remind readers of Michael Lewis’s Moneyball.”
—Buster Olney, senior writer, ESPN The Magazine, and author of How Lucky You Can Be

“All baseball fans ever ask for is hope: hope not only for a season out of their dreams, but also for leaders smart enough and imaginative enough to figure out how to make those dreams reality. In THE EXTRA 2%, Jonah Keri not only presents this blueprint followed to perfection but does so with a brilliant page-turner of a book that will satisfy fans of both baseball and first-rate writing.” —Mike Vaccaro, columnist, the New York Post

“There are a million ways to build a World Series team, but no one has ever built one quite like the Wall Street escapees in Tampa Bay. After reading Jonah Keri’s brilliant account of the Rays’ rise from laugh track to payback, I found myself thinking, ‘The heck with Moneyball. Give me Equityball.’ ” —Jayson Stark, senior writer, ESPN.com

About the Author

Jonah Keri is the co-author and editor of Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong, as well as a contributor to ESPN.com, SI.com, Baseball Prospectus, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. He writes the flagship stock market column for Investor’s Business Daily and has been named the lead baseball analyst for the new Bloomberg sports venture.

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Customer Reviews

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
By Marc Ranger TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
If you like baseball lore and anecdotes, this isn't a book for you. But, if you're interested in the struggle a MLB team goes through to survive, to compete with the biggest markets, you'll find what you are looking for in the Extra 2%.

The new Rays ownership use a variant of "Moneyball" kind of baseball to turn things around. You have to be creative, and lucky, to be able to survive and triumph in the AL East. However, you'll find in conclusion that the Rays won't be able to survive in the long term if they are condemn to play in the dump they call Tropicana Field.

I did not give "The extra 2%" five star because, unlike Jonah Keri other book "Up up and away", this effort will not stir emotions among the readership. It's by no means a dry read, but it won't shatter your heart either.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas April 24 2013
By George
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Although I don't agree with Tampa's form of money managing. As it seems to have backfired on my Blue Jays. Every player we signed early before he neared free agency blew up on them. From Escobar to Romero to Adam Lind. Once they got the big pay cheque they seemed to lose a little drive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even Better than Moneball April 17 2012
By Rule 62 Ken TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First, Canadian author and wunderkid Jonah Kerri tells the story of baseball's Tampa Bay Rays and how new ownership too the team through a transition from a small market baseball team in a bad stadium with atrocious management on and off the field and turned them into contenders in baseball's most impossibly competitive division. Kerri begins by tracing the history of baseball in the Tampa Bay area as the team wanders in the wilderness trying to attract major league baseball into the region. At first Tampa is courted by fickle suitors who sweet talk the Tampa Bay baseball group with false promises of moving existing franchises into the region, only to be thwarted by local politicians (like the former Illinois Governor "Big Jim" Thompson) or team owners who are really posturing to get a better deal at home. When a deal to relocate the San Francisco Giants to Tampa Bay is nixed by major league owners at the 11th hour in 1992, it looks hopeless. Finally three years later, the region is awarded an expansion team under unconscionable conditions: an inflated expansion fee, penalization in the first few years of the baseball draft and slim pickings in the expansion pool.

The team gets off to a rocky start. The managing partner of the owners' group, Vince Naimoli, is a penny-pincher who lacks any sense of the big picture and who manages to alienate the community while killing morale within the organization.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what Moneyball should have been Oct. 13 2011
By Brian Maitland TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Everyone in baseball knows the term "Moneyball" from the book of the same name. The problem with that book is although it brought to light the trend in baseball to look at statistics in a new way (actually a way that had been around for decades thanks to Bill James but a way in which pro baseball virtually ignored) in evaluating talent, it missed the larger picture (namely the main reason the Oakland A's made the playoffs three seasons in a row was two MVP players and a great starting pitching staff).

Jonah Keri does not fall into that trap of creating a theory and then only including facts that support that theory. He gives us a well-rounded look at how the Tampa Bay Rays became, well, a good team in a division with the big bucks Boston Red Sox and even bigger bucks New York Yankees. It's a totally engrossing book that doesn't just look at statistics. In fact it's more a book on the history of both the Devil Rays era and the Rays era in Tampa.

I won't spoil it for anyone but the stuff on their first owner is jawdroppingly stupid the way he ran that franchise. Keri also gets into how that led to fan apathy more than the losing and the problems with playing in a badly situated ugly domed ballpark (the Rays play in St. Petersburg). He also tackles how the Rays deal with having players leave once they get unaffordable for their budget. Basically, this book is everything Moneyball should have been. This goes to show that if you want to write a sports book with someone who understand the financial world, hire Jonah Keri not Moneyball author Michael Lewis.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 3 2014
Format:Hardcover
good book on how a major league team does operate and what happens behind the scenes...
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