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

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

4.1 29
by Jonah Keri
 

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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.

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Extra 2% 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
chicks001 More than 1 year ago
Very easy read. Insightful.
MinTwinsNY 6 months ago
One of the best accomplishments a sports team can achieve is to jump from last place one season to first place the next. In 2008, the Tampa Bay major league baseball club not only changed its name from Devil Rays to Rays, they jumped from fifth place to first in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, and then went on to capture the American League pennant. This book by Jonah Keri attempts to describe the strategies that the front office team of Stuart Sternberg, Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman employed to take the team from worst to first. The strategy of trying harder by that extra 2% in the title is not clear while reading or listening to this book. There is an exhaustive description of all the poor practices of the previous ownership team led by Vince Naimoli – everything from overpaying for aging sluggers to harassing fans who brought their own food into the ballpark. When the trio of former Wall Street businessmen take over, it is almost like the cavalry came in to rescue the Devil Rays. While their record speaks for itself – improving by 31 wins from 2007 to 2008 – the way this was done did not seem to use Wall Street strategies. Because of this, the book fell a little flat in that aspect as I expected it to have more groundbreaking strategies for building a winning baseball team. Instead, Keri discusses the problems that Tampa has in generating revenue with a poorly located stadium, limited media revenue and poor luck in being in the same division as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, two teams with huge revenue streams. There is some “Moneyball” aspects, some wise drafting and investments and recognition that spending a lot of money on a bad team to gain a few more wins won’t improve long-range success. While all of those were key reasons why Tampa Bay became a better team, none of it seemed like a breakthrough discovery that was expected. There is one other topic that Keri discusses in depth, not only about Tampa Bay but other locations as well, and that is how baseball teams will extort cities and states to finance new ballparks with the threat to move. While this was very interesting material, what seemed a little off to me was that other teams such as the Florida/Miami Marlins and Minnesota Twins were discussed when this topic was covered instead of the Rays and what they are doing to try to get a new stadium. Overall, this book was okay because the material is interesting and it is always good to hear success stories. However, what was expected from the title and book description and what was actually presented were two different things which left me feeling a little disappointed when I completed the book. This book is recommended for fans of the Rays, but if one wants to learn more about building a winning team, this isn’t the best source.
Andrew_of_Dunedin More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays since their early days, when they were still referred to as the “Devil Rays”. I remember losing season after losing season; I remember the infamous lineup of aging bats billed as the “Hit Show”, but would be more accurately remembered by putting a leading “S” in front of that advertising slogan. AND I remember going to Tropicana Field and having the staff treat me like I should be grateful to have such an opportunity to give the organization my money since they blessed us with Major League Baseball. I also remember the turnaround when original principle owner Vince Namoli stepped aside, with Stuart Sternberg taking over the role. The way the team rebuilt itself from the minor leagues upward, and began to have some success. And how the staff – often the same people – were visibly glad that I came to the game, and dropped some of my hard earned money into the organzation's coffers, since there are so many other places where my discretionary entertainment dollar could have gone. So, it was a pleasure reading Jonah Keri's, “The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First”, which described the difference between the two ownership groups and their respective philosophies, and showed how one was incredibly successful while the other failed in an epically miserable manner. It was a further pleasure as I came across individual instances that I remember reading about, or witnessing – or even people who I can remember meeting and chatting with. (After all, the fan base was incredibly small in those days.) Unfortunately, despite my incredible enjoyment of the book, I believe that the book failed in one major – no pun intended – aspect. The book talks about how each group took their experiences from outside baseball and applied it to running the team. It talks about how Namoli's failed while Sternberg's succeeded. However, while it stated that the team's success was thanks to Sternberg's willingness to apply philosophies from outside of baseball to improve operations and performance of the Rays, it also states that Namoli basically did the same thing, albeit from his own industry. While author Keri documented individual tales of success and failure, I don't believe he ever made clear why bringing in outside experience failed in one case and succeeded in the other. The individual instances that Keri referenced – and there were many – seemed to reflect on Namoli the man, not on the business background he brought into Major League Baseball. What could Namoli's “fix failing businesses” experience have done to correct his own situation – while it was a situation of his own making, by the time he left it certainly WAS a failing business!! Still, an excellent book. I admit that my fondness for the subject matter may have clouded my judgment, but I would still highly recommend it. RATING: 4 1/2 stars, rounded up to 5 stars.
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Could have been 30 pages shorter-a lot of repeating themes and ideas
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