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

Jonah Keri
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 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.

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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
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“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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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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  107 reviews
58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lot of fluff, yet you have to read it April 11 2011
By Standard Poodle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A hard one! There certainly are not a lot books out on the Rays, and any intelligent baseball book is well worth a read. However, as well-intentioned as this work is, and the fact that if you are a baseball fan you are bound to read it, I cannot give it a great review. Here are a few points:

First, there really is NOT much there. It seems like it would have been a better magazine article. There is heavy repetition that is not really needed.

There are no interesting secrets, no revelations, not even a real idea of how the team works.

Tropicana Field is heavily featured; the general discussion of stadium building is interesting but how many times can the author complain about the Trop? Really, I think a reader would "get it" early in the book.

The history of the team is interesting - perhaps a history of the Rays would be a better work.

Inevitably, this will be compared to Moneyball. Face it, the author's premise/thesis is designed to appeal to fans of that work. However, this work is nowhere nearly as involved, or as interesting as Moneyball.

You do not get a lot of player info; more of this would bring the story to life. Yes, there are some anecdotes, particularly re: Garza and Longoria but not enough to really get an idea of the management mindset.

Overall, I do not regret buying this, and do not want to dissuade you, but it could have really been something great. I feel that a great book could be written about this team, but this is not it. In the meantime, this will have to do.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh. April 3 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Solid sort of book, but not something I would go out of the way to recommend to a friend who has interest in baseball. I felt like I've read this before and Billy Beane was way more entertaining a character. Plus, I'm interested in the Rays, and I felt like I came away with very little understanding of the new regime. I guess just playing close to the vest is part of the Wall St strategy, but it didn't leave me too satisfied as a reader. Got to know plenty about the Naimoli-Lamar fiasco, but that was a pretty public mess, and the rehash here mainly left me with pity for Chuck Lamar. The writing is okay. Some humorous jabs and quips seep in through parenthetical asides. It's very similar to Baseball Between the Numbers (the BP compilation put out a couple years back that Keri edited, and is a little more interesting than this book) in that the author asks some interesting, offbeat questions but the intellectual energy behind the question doesn't flow through the writing. All that said though, as a baseball fan, I'm glad we're seeing more books like this one these days with good, solid analysis, especially of teams that have been overlooked for too long, just like the Rays.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight into an organization against massive odds Sept. 22 2011
By Will - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
No doubt, this book will be compared with Moneyball, as it is the study of how an organization against massive odds applied a unique management style and ultimately became successful (much more successful than Beane's A's, by the way). While I certainly can't speak for Keri, I read this less as a look at a revolutionary concept like Moneyball and more as the history of how a bunch of dudes from Wall Street with no real baseball background to speak of took an organization that was among the worst run in sports and turned it into a perennial winner. It is a fascinating look into just how terribly the Rays were run before the new regime took over and some of the things that they changed once they did. It also explains some of the reasons why the Rays have such problems drawing crowds (spoiler alert: it's not because no one likes the team). Maybe Keri intended this to be like Moneyball, but I read it almost as a history of their organization. And in that respect, I think, it is a very interesting read.

If there is one real nitpick I can come up with about the book, it is that you don't hear much from Stu Sternberg, Andrew Friedman, or Jonathan Silverman. However, seeing as how Billy Beane has finished in the AL West cellar the last few years, maybe the Rays brain trust simply didn't want to reveal too much. After sabermetrics was introduced to the wider baseball community, Billy Beane lost his competitive advantage; it is understandable that the Rays were wary of revealing too much. Also, I would have LOVED if Keri had gotten access to Vince Naimoli; he seems like a fascinating (read: insane) man.

Overall, this is not a perfect book; it can get a bit repetitive at times and there is not quite as much access to the protagonists of the book as I probably would have liked. However, I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about just how the Rays have been run throughout their history and why they are now successful in the brutal AL East. There are a couple of great anecdotes as well, including one about Albert Pujols and one about a vodka-shooting penis; these alone are worth the price of admission.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Baseball Books I've Ever Read Nov. 1 2011
By Arthur Kicker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Jonah Keri has really crafted a masterpiece in 'The Extra Two Percent'. I'm not a Rays fan(I root for the ever disappointing Brewers), but I found the book absolutely riveting.

It tells the in-depth, behind-the-scenes story of how the lowly Tampa Bay Rays went from being the laughing stock of Major League Baseball to the best run, most forward thinking franchise in the game today. He tells the history of the expansion Devil Rays going through poor ownership, poor management to, almost overnight, turning into a well-oiled machine through a complete change in the franchise's culture: new ownership, new manager, focusing on the newest metrics, and completely revamping their minor league system and drafting style.

Keri's writing style is easy to read, very informative, and occasionally funny. He's an engaging writer who, from this point forward, I will make a point to read whatever he puts out.

Whether you are a Rays fan or not, you will enjoy this book. Even if you don't particularly enjoy baseball, I still think you would enjoy this book. Fantastic, fascinating read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight into the Machine Aug. 23 2011
By Jason Chamberlain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This book offers some great insight into the workings of MLB and the Rays in particular. I was a season-ticket holder for the inaugural season in 1998 and have loosely followed the team since moving all around the country. This book explains a lot about how the franchise was run and contrasts that with how it is run today. This is a great book to read after Moneyball as it represents the same kind of thinking, but in a more holistic way. While Moneyball focused on the game itself, this book also looks at what it takes to properly sell the baseball product to the community.

My favorite chapter was the one on Joe Maddon. As a baseball fan I have always found him confusing. I thought he was just quirky and intentionally unpredictable, but this book shows that there is a lot of thought and analysis that goes into each of his decisions. The thing that impressed me the most is that neither he nor the franchise are as concerned with results as they are with making sound decisions.

This may sound ridiculous, but it deals well with the nature of the game. It is the manager's job to put the team in the best situation to succeed. That means strategic decisions such as player acquisition, but it also means tactical decisions such as when to bunt or when to intentionally walk a hitter. The problem that most fans do not recognize is that all the manager can do is call what should be the right play. He cannot control what happens between the lines. There is an element of chance inherent in every game, which is what makes it interesting. The manager and front office must make the right decisions and see how it works out. This is similar to a blackjack player that statistically must hit when holding 16 against a dealer showing a 10. He may draw a 6 and bust, but it is the correct move based on the math.

The chapter on the 2008 run to the pennant was fascinating as well. It also showed the human element as the team gelled into one that would make it to the World Series.

There are two factors that kept me from giving this book five stars. One is that the author uses crude language unnecessarily. I understand that men around baseball use salty language. I am fine with quoting them when appropriate. The story around "STFD" is great. But there is no reason for the author to use such language in his narrative. It felt a bit too conversational to me.

The other is that the book repeats itself. Perhaps this is because I received a pre-release copy for review purposes, but I felt like it could have used more editing. There were several times when I thought, "Didn't I just read about this?" The material in this book is great, but it needed a little more work to fit together better.

Nevertheless, this is a very informative book and one that any baseball fan would enjoy. I certainly recommend it.
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