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

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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. In The Extra 2%, financi 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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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%, financi 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.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    “The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First” is the tale of a few smart guys bringing their business acumen to Tropicana Field, home of baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, and turning a perennial loser into a team capable of toppling the mighty Yankees and Red Sox. Exploring a topic this mundane is no easy task, but Jonah Keri consistently swings and misses throughout the book. Most notably, the book fails to explain Wall Street strategies. The strategy “The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First” is the tale of a few smart guys bringing their business acumen to Tropicana Field, home of baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, and turning a perennial loser into a team capable of toppling the mighty Yankees and Red Sox. Exploring a topic this mundane is no easy task, but Jonah Keri consistently swings and misses throughout the book. Most notably, the book fails to explain Wall Street strategies. The strategy the reader should take away from this book is to replace mean, cheap owners with friendly, less cheap owners, bad managers with good ones, and over-priced, aged players with bargain-priced, home-grown talent. Those principles aren't unique to Wall Street, and Keri never delves into the alleged genius of the Wall Streeters before they wind up in Tampa. Here’s an example of a passage (p.95) describing why Andrew Friedman as a young private equity manager (in New Jersey, by the way), soon to be Rays’ general manager, excelled at closing deals: "“I can wrap it up if you like, “Friedman told his boss, “or even do better if you like.” The young associate believed in his negotiation skills and had a handle on all the numbers. “It’s your baby, full speed ahead,” Clevinger said, eager to see what Friedman could do. Friedman closed the deal as promised. He also materially improved its terms, as promised." Wait, what? How did he close the deal? How did he improve the deal? What are the strategies?? TELL ME!!! When you turn the final page, you’re left wondering why you just did that to yourself. Skip this book, and instead Wikipedia the word “arbitrage.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    2.5 stars. I am nearly done with a project where I am reading a book on each of the Major League teams. This was my choice for the Tampa Bay Rays. There just aren’t many bestselling books on recent expansion teams or teams that aren’t in big money markets. I guess this was an attempt at a Money Ball type book. But the approach was flawed because few people can write as well as Michael Lewis. Now it is true that the Rays have one of the best records over the past dozen years and that analytics di 2.5 stars. I am nearly done with a project where I am reading a book on each of the Major League teams. This was my choice for the Tampa Bay Rays. There just aren’t many bestselling books on recent expansion teams or teams that aren’t in big money markets. I guess this was an attempt at a Money Ball type book. But the approach was flawed because few people can write as well as Michael Lewis. Now it is true that the Rays have one of the best records over the past dozen years and that analytics did turn around the club’s fortunes in the late 00’s. But in the end it’s a really dull book with very little focus on any of the players. My job is in high tech as an A.I. expert and I didn’t learn or recognize anything in this book in the the way of deep analytics either. Maybe it would appeal to someone with more of a business background.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    Its natural comparison is "Moneyball" and that's not really fair because the Athletics and Rays stories are so vastly different and there's very few people on the planet that can write like Michael Lewis. The focus here in Keri's book is the Rays, the Wall Street geniuses who bought them and how they turned a moribund franchise into a superpower in the toughest division in baseball (basically a miracle). The book's strength lies in the detail presented about how the Wall Street guys use their bu Its natural comparison is "Moneyball" and that's not really fair because the Athletics and Rays stories are so vastly different and there's very few people on the planet that can write like Michael Lewis. The focus here in Keri's book is the Rays, the Wall Street geniuses who bought them and how they turned a moribund franchise into a superpower in the toughest division in baseball (basically a miracle). The book's strength lies in the detail presented about how the Wall Street guys use their business savvy in how they analyze players and the sport in general. Keri does a great job showing how their strategies are applied, particularly viewing baseball players as investments and how they utilize baseball's free agency/draft/trade markets as if they are stock, looking for trends. Several other parts of the book are very well done, especially the Joe Maddon chapter - which I found fascinating - as well as the early dreadful days of TB. The negatives are few but glaring. The book is poorly structured and could use a better editor. Keri commits several redundancies, especially when it comes to Tropicana Field (saying that it's a "dump" repetitiously does not enhance the narrative), as well as the difficulty of playing in the American League East. But it's still a good book telling a great story. A little editing and it could've been great. But why dwell on that?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lance

    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 Fri 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. http://sportsbookguy.blogspot.com/201...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christian

    Took me way too long to read this but the main things I learned: -- The former Devil Rays owner was a cheap miser who had no business owning a professional team -- The revenue streams of the Yankees and Red Sox are so ridiculous, it's incredible that any other team can win a World Series. -- I dislike Pat Burrell even more now because of how his contract hamstrung the team from making other moves. -- They probably won't be moving into a new stadium for the next 10+ years despite the fact that they h Took me way too long to read this but the main things I learned: -- The former Devil Rays owner was a cheap miser who had no business owning a professional team -- The revenue streams of the Yankees and Red Sox are so ridiculous, it's incredible that any other team can win a World Series. -- I dislike Pat Burrell even more now because of how his contract hamstrung the team from making other moves. -- They probably won't be moving into a new stadium for the next 10+ years despite the fact that they have the lowest percentage of fans within a 30-mile radius.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    This is not one of those baseball books where you get the joy of playing ball, the thrill of the grass, the blue sky, white ball and windblown dirt of the infield. Nothing poetic about this one. Don’t expect that going in. This is more of what I’d call a business biography of a baseball team. Success in this book isn’t a well hit ball, it’s a well negotiated contract. It feels a bit like the business side of “Moneyball”, but without the charm of the identifiable characters. If they made a movie This is not one of those baseball books where you get the joy of playing ball, the thrill of the grass, the blue sky, white ball and windblown dirt of the infield. Nothing poetic about this one. Don’t expect that going in. This is more of what I’d call a business biography of a baseball team. Success in this book isn’t a well hit ball, it’s a well negotiated contract. It feels a bit like the business side of “Moneyball”, but without the charm of the identifiable characters. If they made a movie of “The Extra 2%”, everyone would be played by Jonah Hill – there aren’t any Brad Pitt roles here. This is the story of the first years of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays, the Devil part of the name excised near the end of the book. The first quarter of the book is a review of the efforts involved in bringing the team to Tampa and a description of the first head of the owner’s group, Vince Naimoli. Naimoli is heavily criticized throughout the book. The illustrations of how he operated are sadly comic at times. The rest of the book describes the offices of the team after Vince’s departure. The new team brings in Joe Madden to coach, and his story fills about a tenth of the book. Frankly, I found this most interesting, in that Madden was, and is, willing to try things out. The rest of the book focuses on what the new Wall Street owners brought to the team. I saw three things: 1) a friendlier way to treat employees, 2) hiring analytics experts, using them, and not bragging about what they were doing, and 3) thinking up novel ways to negotiate contracts that hadn’t been tried in baseball. The moneyed Yankees are the bad-guys in this book, and much of the effort described is how Tampa reduced the benefits the Yankees derived from their deep pockets. I found the description of arbitrage a bit tilted here. They describe arbitrage in baseball as buying the contract of a player who is undervalued, and later flipping the player to another team at a higher price. Arbitrage by definition is a riskless set of exchanges that occur simultaneously, and what they describe here is not simultaneous nor is it riskless. The author reached a bit too far to get a Wall Street term in the book. I was also a bit disappointed in that the analytics weren’t more heavily discussed. The business take-aways are to treat your employees well, and to think differently than your competitors about the things you have control over. These are pretty obvious, but the description is well written, especially if you enjoy stories about the business that is baseball. If you like stories about businesses pivoting to success based on research and on doing things different than the competition, this is a good book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

    After so thoroughly enjoying 'Up Up and Away', Keri's new book on the Expos, I went after his first book, all about the Tampa Bay Rays. This book wasn't the same history as the Expos book, but also a bit more examination of the forward thinking used by the Owner, GM, and other members of Tampa's braintrust. These men all left Wall Street careers for their true love of baseball, and took their bright ideas with them. This can be seen as a sort of companion book to Michael Lewis' 'Moneyball' which After so thoroughly enjoying 'Up Up and Away', Keri's new book on the Expos, I went after his first book, all about the Tampa Bay Rays. This book wasn't the same history as the Expos book, but also a bit more examination of the forward thinking used by the Owner, GM, and other members of Tampa's braintrust. These men all left Wall Street careers for their true love of baseball, and took their bright ideas with them. This can be seen as a sort of companion book to Michael Lewis' 'Moneyball' which is far more famous (the Brad Pitt movie didn't hurt either). I suppose Moneyball will be next on my baseball reading list. Jonah Keri loves baseball, all the simple little things about the game, the stats, the joy of everything from Spring Training to Game 7 of the World Series. Reading his work makes me remember just how much I used to love baseball, and how I'm getting close to where I used to be in loving it. I profoundly thank an author who makes me remember how much I love something, and who's writing makes me want to go devour more about that subject. I look forward to the next book Mr. Keri writes, but for now, I'll have to settle for his columns, podcast, and the occasional Twitter response he gives to my questions/opinions. A very enjoyable read for baseball fans, even if you're not a Rays fan or a Wall Street type. Highly recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Peters

    This is what you get when combining the math awesomeness that is statistical analysis with insider baseball – a great look into what it takes to put a winning baseball team on the field. Now if you got tons of cash you can just skip all of this nonsense and just buy the best talent at the top prices and have at it. At least that is what the Yankees do and even though that alone is pretty much a great reason to hate them, it is a winning formula. Now if you don’t have the cash (i.e. just about th This is what you get when combining the math awesomeness that is statistical analysis with insider baseball – a great look into what it takes to put a winning baseball team on the field. Now if you got tons of cash you can just skip all of this nonsense and just buy the best talent at the top prices and have at it. At least that is what the Yankees do and even though that alone is pretty much a great reason to hate them, it is a winning formula. Now if you don’t have the cash (i.e. just about the rest of MLB), but do have time; well there is plan B. Plan B is when you build a strong and loyal fan base and find local home grown product to put on the field. That is what my team, the Twinkies, does. Not as successful as the Yankees but they are competitive most years. Plus there is no shame in cheering for them. If those first two aren’t available for you, then the old school method was to gamble using your gut. That means you put out the dollars based on instinct and hope for the best. Normally that would mean gambling on a plan, but our heroes, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, never did formulate a plan; at least one they would follow for more than a season or two. Consequently they were the bottom dwellers of MLB and a perennial punch line. To make his point, the author details just how bad things were for the Rays, laying just about all of the blame at the founding owner’s feet. While this gossipy evisceration of Vince Naimoli is a very entertaining demonstration of clueless brand management, it struck me as the weakest part of the book. It was mainly he said/she said, and clearly shows a man completely out of touch with the need for managing his public image, but at the same time it bordered on nasty for nastiness sake. It seemed like the author didn’t believe you the reader would get the point of the rest of the book without tearing down owner number one. I would say the author didn’t have faith in the original concept of the book and added all this shallow stuff to suck in the readers. Unfortunately the people who read the book for this material are going to quit reading by chapter three. That said it is fun to read in a back-biting way. It is always good to remember that a alienating your fan base is never helpful when all your profits are based on said fan base. A good example is getting the local high school band to perform, but then not allowing them into the stadium unless they bought tickets. The real strength of this book is the math. Taking something that seems as arbitrary as MLB and applying solid business analysis to it can show up a lot of flaws in the current business model. The title suggests that gaining that 2% edge over your competition will lead to substantial profits down the road. Think if you could guarantee winning at roulette 52% of the time. Played right you would soon be a millionaire. Could the same be true for winning baseball games? Three finance guys who had done extremely well on Wall Street and had a love of baseball picked up the Rays relatively cheap. Using their finance knowledge they began managing the team with a long term strategy of gaining that 2% edge. This meant looking at the numbers to find underappreciated talent at under market value. Just as Warren Buffet scans to country for undervalued companies to add to Berkshire Hathaway, these guys scanned the minor leagues and the free agents trying to fill the holes they had in their roster. How do you find that information out – the numbers? For example there is a guy who can breakdown a pitches style down to when he releases the ball and from that give you a very accurate prediction of how far away they are from injury. Really cool stuff. Also on a strictly business level, the lengths the new owners go to repair their brand is great. As anyone can tell you brand is everything, especially in a consumer driven business model. Some of the counter-intuitive arguments reminded me of Chris Anderson’s book “Free.” For example, allowing fans to bring in their own food actually leads to increased sales at the concessions. Coupling the games with concerts is another strategy while not original to the Rays, it is used to great effect. Of course you can’t lead strictly lead by the numbers, you just have to respect them. Two problems are evident in this system though the Rays have been very successful following them. First is mentioned in the book and that is the big miss on Albert Pujols. The Rays has him in their sights since high school (they were “first” to see him) and no matter how they added the numbers up it kept showing a loss. Time and again they (and to be fair, almost everyone else too) passed on him. The second thing, and this I didn’t see mentioned, it is possible to be profitable financially as a team without winning. I would guess that is what would get you through the bad years but the model doesn’t require winning as part of the equation. Rather winning is seems to be the icing on the cake, and while that is good; it won’t keep your fans around forever. “We may not play well, but at least were profitable” is not brand tagline for the long run. While I like insider baseball and cool analysis used in new and creative ways, I realize I might be in the minority. Plus the early negativity was done a little too much with an excessive zeal. But I do recommend this book for anyone interested in baseball and business. If you like both then you are sitting on a homerun right here.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Garrett Rosen

    The Extra 2% This novel, The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri is about the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that made a historic turnaround from perennial loser to consistent contender. The Rays went from so bad to so good that B.J Upton best describes their team by saying, “I used to tell people that I played for the Devil Rays and they’d ask, ‘Who are the Devil Rays?’ Now, I think they know who we are.” (Keri 3). The dramatic change in the teams productivity comes from the change in ownership. When Stuart Sternbe The Extra 2% This novel, The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri is about the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that made a historic turnaround from perennial loser to consistent contender. The Rays went from so bad to so good that B.J Upton best describes their team by saying, “I used to tell people that I played for the Devil Rays and they’d ask, ‘Who are the Devil Rays?’ Now, I think they know who we are.” (Keri 3). The dramatic change in the teams productivity comes from the change in ownership. When Stuart Sternberg took over ownership for the Rays, he brought his knowledge from his Wall Street career into baseball. He took into consideration every little detail and spent every dollar wisely. There was no lacking of evaluations of players, money, and more. Who would have thought that Wall Street strategies would work in the game of baseball, where people have been trying to figure out the best ways to win for over a century. And it only took 5 years for Stuart Sternberg to lead his team from worst to first and ahead of the huge market teams like the Red Sox and the Yankees. I really enjoyed this book because it helped me understand the hard work that is put into every franchise, to keep it successful and running, not just in baseball, but in every business. It is a lesson that can be used for the rest of your life. Knowing that if you put in hard work and determination into something, then something good will come in return. In this case, the Rays spent several long hours scouting players and building up their team on a low payroll, and in return they won the AL pennant in 2008. Therefore, I recommend everybody to read this!!! Stuart Sternberg, in talking about what it takes financially to run a franchise is quoted as saying, “With the prices of franchises, you’ve got to have someone who understands the pocketbook, the brand, and what it takes to grow it. Given all the needs, I need someone with a broader set of skills.” (Keri 85). This quote really speaks to me because it shows that there is more to a baseball team then what is just shown on the field. It is the behind the scenes work that can make or break a ball club. I rate this novel The Extra 2% a 5 out of 5 because I will talk about this book for years to come. This true story about a major league franchise going from worst to first taught me a life lesson that you put something in you will get something in return. In this case, the Rays got a winning season and an AL pennant. Hence, in life if you study hard and do well in school, you will receive a good job and make a good living. But if you are lazy and don’t have any motivation, then you can never excel in life. This is better explained when John Wayne said, and I quote, “Life's hard. It's even harder when you're stupid.” The similarities between a baseball team or even a business and the struggles of life have come out in this book and that is why this is a five star caliber book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    As someone who dedicates, well, every night of the baseball season to watching baseball games, I don't think that I was the target audience for The Extra 2%. Jonah Keri has certainly watched more baseball than me and has talked to and interviewed way more baseball people than me, even before writing this book. But I don't think that it's aimed at a serious baseball fan. So I'm not going to hold it against the book for mostly glossing over the 2008 turnaround season, which I actually thought were As someone who dedicates, well, every night of the baseball season to watching baseball games, I don't think that I was the target audience for The Extra 2%. Jonah Keri has certainly watched more baseball than me and has talked to and interviewed way more baseball people than me, even before writing this book. But I don't think that it's aimed at a serious baseball fan. So I'm not going to hold it against the book for mostly glossing over the 2008 turnaround season, which I actually thought were the slowest and least interesting parts of the book. Far more interesting to me was the winding saga of how baseball ultimately came to Tampa Bay - well, St. Petersberg. I did not know this before, or even that Tropicana Field has been built for several years before the baseball team even came into existence. No wonder the place doesn't seem so modern. As well, the problems with the previous owner and his failure on just about every level were interesting to me. The Devil Rays organization being so cheap that not every employee even had a company e-mail address until like 2003 was probably the biggest eye-opening fact here. I mean, wow. There's a fair bit of inside baseball here. That's what else is interesting to me, of course. Names like Sternberg and Silverman are ones that I hear but don't really know a lot. Keri interviewed a wide variety of people to get perspective on all of these events, including the failed GM from the Naimoli days, and it was also refreshing to kind of get a candid post-mortem from a guy who was in a job that was over his head for several years and maybe he wasn't cut out for it after all. On the other hand, you have to wonder if he might have done better if he didn't have the problem with ownership wanting to win immediately, leading to the bad contracts, and so on. There's always food for thought with what-ifs in baseball, which is part of the fun, too. I would have liked if there was a bit more meat to the day in and day out of that 2008 turnaround season. That's not the point of the book, though. It's more about the behind the scenes. Though it's not too old, the 2012 baseball season has kind of rendered some of the points moot; neo-Moneyball in Oakland and whatever-the-heck Dan Duquetteball in Baltimore were the dominant stories from 2012, and these are even more interesting (to me, especially, being an Orioles fan) because they're more complicated. The Extra 2% boils down to, the Rays were being run incompetently and now they are being run hyper-competently. So, duh, of course they are doing better now. How did the Athletics and Orioles manage to win in 2012? Well, that's another book for someone else to write. Maybe me, but probably not.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    As a Rays fan, and as someone who loved Michael Lewis' Moneyball, I came to Jonah Keri's "The Extra 2%" with high expectations. 2% is largely a disappointment. If you are a Rays fan, or simply a baseball fan who wants to relive the incredible worst-to-first run that the Rays put together in 2008, you will find some enjoyable moments here. The most interesting material, ironically, is often the stories of ineptitude from the Naomoli era, which held the then-Devil Rays down for a decade. The idea h As a Rays fan, and as someone who loved Michael Lewis' Moneyball, I came to Jonah Keri's "The Extra 2%" with high expectations. 2% is largely a disappointment. If you are a Rays fan, or simply a baseball fan who wants to relive the incredible worst-to-first run that the Rays put together in 2008, you will find some enjoyable moments here. The most interesting material, ironically, is often the stories of ineptitude from the Naomoli era, which held the then-Devil Rays down for a decade. The idea here is that the Rays go 2% beyond everyone else when it comes to effort, research, idea generation, player evaluation, etc. Hence the title, The Extra 2%. Don't expect any more information than this. The Rays guard their internal operations very closely, and honestly, I feel they are wise to do so. So if you wondering HOW the Rays turned the ship around, you'll just have to settle for the hyperbole that they tried about 2% harder than everyone else. Don't expect to learn anything about how they value defense, how they evaluate pitchers and teach the change up, or anything else. They don't want you to know. Which brings up an interesting question: If there isn't any information to be had, why was this book written at all? Surely the Oakland Athletics didn't reveal all internal operations when Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball, but at least we learned that they valued OBP highly, that they were one of the first teams to look at Fielding Independent Pitching, and that they could prove statistically that RBI's are more a function of who your teammates are than who you are. Lewis took us into the draft room, where we witnessed Billy Beane throw a chair through a wall at the height of his conflict with the old guard scouting system. Moneyball gave us wonderful insights and made us feel like a part of the Athletics, even if the most important secrets were kept from us. What did I learn in The Extra 2%? That the Rays have to try really hard to beat the financial juggernauts from Boston and New York. But I already knew that, and so did you. Unless you are a die hard Rays fan who wants to relive 2008, you might want to pass.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robbie

    Robbie Sheets pages 245 The reason why i choose this book: because it talk about my favorite team the Tampa Bay Rays an how they went from worst team in baseball to the number one team in baseball with help from three wall street ownership people name Stuart Sternberg,Matt Silverman,and Andrew Friedman. Genre: non-fiction. Setting: St peterburg,FL home of the Tampa bay Rays. main charcter:Stuart Sternberg owner of team,Matt Silverman presdent of the team, Andrew Friedman General Manager of the team Robbie Sheets pages 245 The reason why i choose this book: because it talk about my favorite team the Tampa Bay Rays an how they went from worst team in baseball to the number one team in baseball with help from three wall street ownership people name Stuart Sternberg,Matt Silverman,and Andrew Friedman. Genre: non-fiction. Setting: St peterburg,FL home of the Tampa bay Rays. main charcter:Stuart Sternberg owner of team,Matt Silverman presdent of the team, Andrew Friedman General Manager of the team and Vince Naimoli their first owner in their 13 year history. Plot: talks about how they had the worst owner ever for a sports team his name was Vince Naimoli and here are the reasons why. That he did not allow the fans to bring their own food to the game. If he saw that going on he would kick you out of the stadium did not trade people and would get old players not young guys. but in 2005 the team got a new person to run and that was Stuart Sternberg a job in wall street and allow fans to bring food to the game even talking to fan's to and a new manger for the team new young players,and even made it to the playoffs for first time and world series. Conflict: How to bring a team from the worst to first. Resolved: By buying and tradeing good players. My Opinion: Is that it talks about my favorite team and how they became the laughing stock in MLB to a team that people talking about who's going to make the playoffs and even win the world series and i feel good about that.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pedro Calmell

    As with all baseball stories, it cab always be spun on two different ways. I wonder if the Rays story told here would be told very differently if the outcome had been different. Say, if the Rays had come up just short of the playoffs (still a marked improvement from the LaMar days) the process would have been the same but the storyline wouldn't be as compelling. Having said that, overcoming the traditional AL East powerhouses is a major achievement and this book does a good job of connecting the As with all baseball stories, it cab always be spun on two different ways. I wonder if the Rays story told here would be told very differently if the outcome had been different. Say, if the Rays had come up just short of the playoffs (still a marked improvement from the LaMar days) the process would have been the same but the storyline wouldn't be as compelling. Having said that, overcoming the traditional AL East powerhouses is a major achievement and this book does a good job of connecting the threads that took the Rays there in an entertaining manner.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jay Rain

    Rating - 7.8 A bit thin on insider content but a satisfying read nonetheless, particularly since I did not know much of Friedman & the Tampa Bay turnaround; Ending makes the 2011 outcomes even more fan rewarding Not as much Wall Street applicability as the title would suggest & the repetition is evident; Overall, Keri has a smooth writing style, knows his shit & has efficiently targeted the knowledgeable baseball fan

  15. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    Predictably written and not nearly detailed enough. I know what the damn team did, tell me how they did it when other teams couldn't! Predictably written and not nearly detailed enough. I know what the damn team did, tell me how they did it when other teams couldn't!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Could have been a 1000 word article instead.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mike Kennedy

    Good book that details the Tampa Bay Rays franchise concentrating on their upswing into relevance in the last decade. It was real interesting to learn about their struggles to get a MLB franchise, and how cheap their first owner was. It was also interesting how they tried to take sabermetrics a step further than Billy Beane and Moneyball did. They kept looking for new ways to change the game and gain that extra 2%. These baseball outsiders found success, and their success continued to change the Good book that details the Tampa Bay Rays franchise concentrating on their upswing into relevance in the last decade. It was real interesting to learn about their struggles to get a MLB franchise, and how cheap their first owner was. It was also interesting how they tried to take sabermetrics a step further than Billy Beane and Moneyball did. They kept looking for new ways to change the game and gain that extra 2%. These baseball outsiders found success, and their success continued to change the game of baseball. If you are interested in how a MLB franchise works, I think you will enjoy this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    JK

    Content-wise, sort of a spiritual sequel to Moneyball, perhaps slightly less interesting because it's not as fresh and new (well, it is, but the baseball side, such as fielding analytics and things are not as fleshed out). The book reads fluidly and is an easy read, but tends to confusingly jump between time periods and characters in a way that might confuse people not familiar with baseball's more recent timeline of events. Oddly written in a more general-interest angle, but not as interesting Content-wise, sort of a spiritual sequel to Moneyball, perhaps slightly less interesting because it's not as fresh and new (well, it is, but the baseball side, such as fielding analytics and things are not as fleshed out). The book reads fluidly and is an easy read, but tends to confusingly jump between time periods and characters in a way that might confuse people not familiar with baseball's more recent timeline of events. Oddly written in a more general-interest angle, but not as interesting or accessible, despite the explanations of all the stats stuff.

  19. 5 out of 5

    venkataraman balasubramanian

    Another book on how a small market team made their mark in highly imbalanced baseball league - this time its the Tampa bay rays against the Goliath’s (Yankees and Red Sox). Even though the books title talks about the Wall Street strategies the author only briefly talks about them . A significant number of chapters were lost on the previous owners with little to describe on the new management’s strategies. I would rate this lower than moneyball and the big data baseball that talks in detail about Another book on how a small market team made their mark in highly imbalanced baseball league - this time its the Tampa bay rays against the Goliath’s (Yankees and Red Sox). Even though the books title talks about the Wall Street strategies the author only briefly talks about them . A significant number of chapters were lost on the previous owners with little to describe on the new management’s strategies. I would rate this lower than moneyball and the big data baseball that talks in detail about A’sand pirates strategies to win after a significant losing seasons

  20. 5 out of 5

    Felipe

    A great study of one of the most unconventional sports franchises of the past few decades, and the strategies its ownership and management utilized to compete against much wealthier opponents with larger payrolls.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steve Francis

    i read this theee years too late for any of the ideas it explores about building a ballclub to be new, but still loved it

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    **1/4: repetitive where it should be informative; would have more value for people who already have a deeper understanding of finance.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emsoca

    The book is definitely excellent.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Wingedbeaver

    With non-fiction books, sometimes the title of a book means everything. It pulls the reader in. It tells us what we’re going learn. It sets expectations. When the title doesn’t match the content or the content doesn’t live up to the title, when the expectations aren’t met, an otherwise good book can fall flat. That’s what happened with Jonah Keri’s new book, The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First. I’ve heard about this book for some time a With non-fiction books, sometimes the title of a book means everything. It pulls the reader in. It tells us what we’re going learn. It sets expectations. When the title doesn’t match the content or the content doesn’t live up to the title, when the expectations aren’t met, an otherwise good book can fall flat. That’s what happened with Jonah Keri’s new book, The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First. I’ve heard about this book for some time and as a huge American League East baseball fan I was eager to read it, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to the hype I had built for it. I hoped to read an interesting analysis on how the Rays new owners used Wall Street Strategies to turn around what had been a horrible franchise stuck in the hardest division in professional sports. I envisioned the next generation Moneyball, possibly a mix of Freakanomics and Ball Four, but all I got was a history of Tampa Bay’s dealings with baseball. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have read a history of Tampa’s dealing with baseball or that the material wasn’t interesting, I enjoyed what the book had to say on these topics. My problem was that the book never seemed to effectively address the topics suggested by the title. Other then pointing out that the new owners of the Tampa Bay Rays came directly from jobs on Wall Street, Keri fails to convincingly show how Wall Street strategies turned the team’s fortunes around. He points out that most of the key components of the present team were drafted by the previous management. The only effect the new owners had with these players was signing them to cheap long term contracts before they became superstars, but that is far from a new strategy, Cleveland and Texas GM John Hart made that strategy famous a decade ago. Many of the moves of the new management team, including the signing of Pat Burrell, blew up in their faces. Keri highlights the pick up of career minor leaguer Dan Johnson as if it was a major coop, but the guy hit one homerun that happened to lead to one Ray win and was never heard from again. The one valid point Keri seems to make is about the new management’s attempts to fix the team’s relationship with the community, but even that falls flat in the end. Keri spends a ton of time on both how Vincent Naimoli, the first Ray owner, pushed the Bay community away and the various outside the box techniques the new owners have used to try and bring them back. If anything this may be where Wall Street strategies would turn around the franchise. Who knows more about marketing then Wall Street? But the book ends by pointing out that Tampa’s attendance still comes in at the bottom of the Major League. All these new strategies have had no effect on bringing the community back at all making the time spent talking about the strategies in context of turning the franchise around seem frivolous. I also feel that Keri was unsure who he was writing the book for. At times he explained simple details of the game of baseball as if he was writing to someone who was not familiar with it. At other times, he brushed over baseball ideas as if he assumed his audience would know what he was talking about. As a baseball fan, I was confused why he chose to explain the simple old fashioned concepts but brush over the more complex newer ones. If you’re interested in reading about the history of the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa’s attempts to get a major league team, this is a good enough read. There is a lot of interesting information here that most baseball enthusiasts will enjoy. If you’re only interested in how Wall Street strategies turned the team around then stay away. Keri’s hypothesis falls flat and on many occasions is proven false by his own writing. This book, unfortunately, is not the next Moneyball.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Irhema

    The book is totally wonderful.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    Worst-to-first. It’s an age-old cliché that is seldom achieved, but when it is, everyone wants to know the details. How did you do it? Jonah Keri presents an adequate description of perhaps the most unlikely of such events, the sudden and unexpected rise of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays in the brutal American League East. The very concept is so far-fetched, catching and passing the filthy-rich New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, that this book, if written ten years ago, would have been near the top Worst-to-first. It’s an age-old cliché that is seldom achieved, but when it is, everyone wants to know the details. How did you do it? Jonah Keri presents an adequate description of perhaps the most unlikely of such events, the sudden and unexpected rise of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays in the brutal American League East. The very concept is so far-fetched, catching and passing the filthy-rich New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, that this book, if written ten years ago, would have been near the top of comedy best sellers. The recipe for this success story begins with a sad-sack franchise, poorly located and even more poorly managed, and ripe for fresh blood. Enter Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Silverman, late of Wall Street investing and banking services, and rabid baseball fans, and the saga begins. So what is the “2% extra” that was so deftly applied to this losing franchise, turning them from perennial losers to World Series participants in just three years? Keri takes us through the nightmare of “culture change” that was necessitated by the policies implemented by former owner Vincent J. Naimoli. There were changes in the name, the uniform, the promotions (which could be a separate book of its own), and, most important, the way fans and employees were treated. It’s clear that these changes took time, but while these were being implemented, General Manager Andrew Friedman was charging into the fray with a determination to build a team of like-thinking players, players who would fit their respective roles and give Manager Joe Maddon options in pivotal game situations. His concept is reminiscent of the system implemented by Jimmy Johnson in Dallas in which he assigned a number value to players and prospects, enabling the team to gain advantage in drafting and stockpiling draft picks. A quick look back at the success of the Cowboys shows the merit of such a system; one that proved strikingly successful until the “elephant in the room”, the massive ego of Jerry Jones, forced Johnson out. Friedman openly admitted that he loved obtaining players for less than they were worth, using contracts that were loaded with team options, especially in dealing with young players who were willing to risk some future earnings in exchange for immediate financial security. Of course there was, and is, inherent risk because of potential injury and the chance that subjective evaluation could be wrong, but the concept, when applied across the board, proved to be the key contributing factor in the quest to overtake teams with many times the cash flow and resources available to them. When the team fought through the wars of 162 games plus playoffs in 2008, reaching the World Series, the “Extra 2%” that had been so fiercely applied was justified, much to the pleasure of thousands in Tampa Bay as well as baseball purists all over the country who had longed for a way for small-market teams to compete with the “big-money” teams. This book is a blend of concepts and facts that will lean you toward being a fan of the Rays if you’re not careful. The specific examples of innovative managing, from the front office to the diamond, will capture your attention, making this a very entertaining and revealing study of this very unusual story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    James

    Although it is written in a style that seems to be more like a very long magazine article than a book, Jonah Keri provides some fantastic insight into the resurrection of the largest laughingstock in American sports over the last two decades - the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays. Without a doubt my favorite part of the book doesn't actually even discuss how Stuart Sternberg, Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman used their Wall Street savvy to turn around the trainwreck. It's reading on how that trainwreck u Although it is written in a style that seems to be more like a very long magazine article than a book, Jonah Keri provides some fantastic insight into the resurrection of the largest laughingstock in American sports over the last two decades - the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays. Without a doubt my favorite part of the book doesn't actually even discuss how Stuart Sternberg, Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman used their Wall Street savvy to turn around the trainwreck. It's reading on how that trainwreck unfolded in the first place. Somehow, Keri was able to get some of the funniest (or saddest, if you're a Tampa Bay resident) anecdotes about former owner / skinflint Vince Naimoli. In the annals of terrible owners, Naimoli ranks right up there for Tampa fans with the way Cleveland fans feel about Art Modell and Lebron James. Naimoli ground a promising franchise to rubble just to squeeze another few pennies, and in the process opened the door for the aforementioned Wall Street trio to swoop in at a discount price and overhaul the franchise. Does Keri tend to deify the protagonists? Yes. In the last section of the book, on stadiums and revenue sharing in baseball, Keri tends to glance over the vast handouts that Sternberg has stumped for, as well as the veiled threats he (like Naimoli) have made about selling or moving the team if a new stadium is not built to replace the dump known as Tropicana Field. The Trop may be a baseball hellhole but St. Pete residents should not feel hijacked every few years by an owner who bought a team KNOWING the stadium stunk and paid a low price for the team accordingly. My other disappointment was the lack of one-on-one discussions with Andrew Friedman, the GM whiz-kid running the show. All those around him go to great lengths to discuss his financial and business acumen, but most of all his negotiation skills, but we the reader get precious few moments to hear the man speak. Given that he is living out the dream of just about every investment / financial professional worldwide (the opportunity to be the GM of a pro sports team), you'd think getting some more choice blurbs from him would be critical. Despite a flow that is a bit choppy - the chapters seem more like collections of profiles on the key players and the obstacles the Rays face against the Yankees and Red Sox, rather than a clear story - some colloquial writing and precious few interviews with the triumvirate running the Rays, The Extra 2% is a great read for all baseball fans, whether casual or hardcore. Keri ably dives deep into some nuanced parts of the business of baseball while still making it understandable for casual fans, a difficult balance. And you really do feel for the Rays and the challenges they've faced as you read about the failings of Chuck Lamar, Vince Naimoli, et al, during the first decade of existence. While I'm not going to be trading in my Sox hat for a Rays one anytime soon, I've got a new-found respect for these AL East foes and if it comes down to rooting for them or the Yankees should my Sox fall short, rest assured I'll be picking up a cowbell and cheering for the Rays!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    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 t 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.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Phillip Welshans

    Overall: An interesting look at the personalities and some of the methods that went in to transforming the Tampa Bay Rays from a last place team to winning the AL pennant two out of three years. I wish it had been heavier on the links between finance and baseball, but the book is not mortally wounded as a result of the higher-level treatment. Generally, I liked the book, and thought it was a good descendant of Michael Lewis's Moneyball. Keri does a fine job of discussing the more "Wall Street" l Overall: An interesting look at the personalities and some of the methods that went in to transforming the Tampa Bay Rays from a last place team to winning the AL pennant two out of three years. I wish it had been heavier on the links between finance and baseball, but the book is not mortally wounded as a result of the higher-level treatment. Generally, I liked the book, and thought it was a good descendant of Michael Lewis's Moneyball. Keri does a fine job of discussing the more "Wall Street" like tactics employed by the Rays ownership and management to compete in the ultra-moneyed AL East. I also liked the chapters on Joe Maddon (Rays manager) and even the final chapter on Tropicana Field. While I knew The Trop was a dump of a stadium, I didn't know why the Rays are stranded there, and the controversies over moving/building a new stadium in Tampa vs St. Pete, etc. I found the book to be almost too simplistic for me, but I think that is more a result of the audience that this book is meant for, rather than anything inherent in the content of the book itself. I think this book is meant to appeal to business readers first, baseball fans second. Where Moneyball was all about player evaluation and the marriage of quantitative valuation analysis with baseball analytics, The Extra 2% is about how Wall Street experiences influenced the business decisions, both on field and in the front office (i.e. marketing, minor league development, budgeting, stadium issues, etc). It was not as compelling for me as a baseball fan, but that's not a bad thing. I also found that the book discussed financial concepts at a relatively high level as well, which I think detracts from their importance to how the Rays are run. Again, I think this was by design to make the book more interesting to a broader spectrum of readers. And I would also bet that the famously tight-lipped Rays front office was not about to reveal all their tricks to Keri anyway, which limited just how much he could discuss any quantitative or evaluation techniques employed. Finally, I was bothered by the seemingly disjointed structure of the book. That is not to say I think the chapters were presented out of order or that the material didn't flow. But throughout the book, I got the feeling that the chapters had been written in one order, but assembled in the book in another order. There would be a reference in a later chapter of the book that would repeat, nearly verbatim, explanatory language used in an earlier chapter, for example. Or a person would be described two or three times throughout the book as if the author was introducing them to the reader for the first time. Maybe this was to ensure the reader didn't forget, but I found it distracting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This book was fairly well written and makes for a nice beach read. That said, I think how much you enjoy the book will definitely depend on what your expectations for it are and your prior dealings with baseball. I have not read Moneyball, but am familiar with the concepts of sabermetrics and sports econ (having taken an economics of sports course in college). As for baseball, I've lived in Chicago, Boston, and NYC and still have yet to be a convert die-hard-fan of any team, but I can still appr This book was fairly well written and makes for a nice beach read. That said, I think how much you enjoy the book will definitely depend on what your expectations for it are and your prior dealings with baseball. I have not read Moneyball, but am familiar with the concepts of sabermetrics and sports econ (having taken an economics of sports course in college). As for baseball, I've lived in Chicago, Boston, and NYC and still have yet to be a convert die-hard-fan of any team, but I can still appreciate a good game when I see one. The Extra 2% provides a nice, in-depth historical narrative of the Tampa Devil Rays and the troubles that plagued Florida's Tampa/St.Pete baseball efforts as well as the Devil Rays team from inception. Similarly, the book also describes the strategic management of the old Rays management team and the new management team well. However, I definitely would not classify this as a "finance" book, but more of a historical narrative and team/personal commentary. The main pitfalls of the book is some ideas/concepts get a little redundant and drag a little 3/4's of the way in. (I read an advance copy/goodreads giveaway so the final version may be slightly different.) It is clear the author admires the Rays and finds them at a strong disadvantage in playing in the AL East (same division as the Red Sox/Yanks) and the Trop stadium doesn't tend to draw many crowds despite how well/poor the Rays play). However, in the economic/sports analysis of what could be different or would be better the author seems to flip-flop between his conclusion/suggestion. In essence, the audience for whom he directs his ideas seems to shift, which leads to slightly incoherent suggestions and predictions for the future and makes it difficult (for the reader) to root for any particular outcome. The progress the Rays have made in the past five years are certainly impressive, but near the end the book loses the reader with some of the divergent points and makes it difficult for me, as a reader, to muster up any other emotion beyond apathy for the team. I do, however, applaud the author's effort to provide a balanced narrative with the appropriate disclosures (personal/professional relationships) but believe these would have been stronger if the author made a decision as to which side of the fence he stands on regarding stadiums, MLB payout structure, draft system, etc. It is clear the author feels sympathetic towards the Rays, but less so why we should care.

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