Oliver Bateman's Reviews > The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First First

The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri
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's review
Mar 07, 2011

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This is a highly readable account of the Tampa Bay Rays' surprising run to respectability, but after Lewis' Moneyball and Baseball Prospectus' Mind Game, did we need another one of these books? Moreover, was the Rays' success--two playoff appearances, one thrashing in the World Series--sufficient to warrant such attention? And finally, was it the "Goldman Sachs business methodology of going long on assets" of owner Stuart Sternberg and his team of experts that turned the Rays into winners? Or was it merely the equivalent of winning the lottery by making the best of a bunch of high draft picks after years of futility--a process that began long before Sternberg et al. took over the team? Although Jonah Keri deserves a few points for noting that Goldman Sachs wasn't exactly a hotbed of business innovation in the aughties, his hypothesis that "scientific management" turned the Rays into winners doesn't hold water. And anyway, who cares? The Rays will be losers again in a few years, much like the Moneyball A's were, and this book will fade into history alongside the Ickey Shuffle and the several iterations of Boomer Esiason's autobiography. It took me less than four hours to read the Extra 2%, though, so I suppose that's a point in its favor. Also: With the exception of batting catcher John Jaso high in the order, manager Joe Maddon is no tactical genius, and the section in this book on his greatness of heart/innovation/genius (he reads pop psychology books and can do arithmetic!) strays into Bissinger/La Russa lovefest territory.

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