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Author: Jonah Keri (web page; agent)

Published: 2011

Pages: 272

Price: $15.85 for hardcover (

Our rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

Reviewed by Jewish Baseball News


In the spirit of Michael Lewis’ 2004 classic Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, Jonah Keri asks the question: How can a low-budget team compete with those able to spend several times as much on player salaries? Whereas Lewis focused on the early 1990s Oakland A’s and general manager Billy Beane, Keri focuses on the Tampa Bay Rays and the unlikely bunch of young Wall Street veterans who took them from last place in the tough American League East division in 2007 to the World Series a year later. “We’ve worked hard to get that extra 2%, that 52-48 edge,” Rays owner Stuart Sternberg says, in a quote that inspired the book’s title.

What’s Jewish about it

This is not, on the surface, a Jewish-themed book. The words “Jew” and “Jewish” don’t appear once. But author Keri is a Member of the Tribe, as are many of the Tampa Bay Rays’ owners and front office staff, including Sternberg, general manager Andrew Friedman, president Matt Silverman, director of baseball operations Dan Feinstein, and assistant director of minor-league operations Chaim Bloom. Besides, the idea of a bunch of whip-smart, budget-conscious guys using their wits to turn lead into gold is sort of a classic Jewish trope, isn’t it?

Keri does make one indirect reference to the organization’s Jewishness. A “close-knit group” that includes Friedman, Feinstein, Bloom, Silverman and manager of baseball research and development James Click often meet over beers, he writes on Page 194. “The running joke is that peer presure will eventually force Click to change his name to Clickstein.”

Our take

Jonah Keri is a lively writer who knows how to entertain. His intriguing topic — how a low-budget David like the Tampa Bay Rays has learned to compete with Goliaths such as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox — should appeal to any student of the sport. Rays fans in particular will appreciate Keri’s detailed history of the 1998 expansion team’s founding and painful early years. Precious few books have been written about this young, small-market team.

But The Extra 2% doesn’t delve nearly as deeply into the Rays’ extensive use of Sabremetrics as Michael Lewis’ Moneyball did with the Oakland A’s. And whereas Lewis spent dozens of hours talking with and observing A’s general manager Billy Beane, Keri evidently had far less access to Rays execs, who guard the team’s competitive knowledge zealously.


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