ANNOUNCEMENT: New Tampa Bay Rays/Wall Street book, with ESPN Books and Random House
I’m thrilled to report that I’ve agreed to terms, with a joint partnership of ESPN Books and Random House, to write a book about the Tampa Bay Rays and their Wall Street approach to baseball.
I’m psyched about the project, because there’s an amazing story to be told. Three guys with limited baseball experience but a wealth of Wall Street experience, Stuart Sternberg (Goldman Sachs), Matt Silverman (Goldman Sachs) and Andrew Friedman (Bear Stearns) have taken the Rays from the worst team in baseball to the 2008 AL champions. That’s not even stating it strongly enough. When these Wall Street guys took over three years ago, the Rays were the butt of constant jokes, the weak sister in a division ruled by the unbeatable Yankees and Red Sox. Now…well, I’m writing a book about them! They’ve got a loaded team that’s going to be very good for many years to come.
Even if you don’t care about the Tampa Bay Rays, or you’re not that big a baseball fan, I think this will be a fun read. The two guys who run the day-to-day operations, Friedman and Silverman, are younger than I am (yikes!). Friedman played college ball at Tulane and was already in the front office (briefly) before Sternberg bought the team. Sternberg liked Sandy Koufax. That was about it as far as their baseball background went.
They’re learned a lot about baseball in the past three years. But they still talk in Wall Street terms like “arbitrage” and “mark-to-market” in describing many of the decisions that they make. I’m one of only three people I know who have the dual background of stock market writer and sports writer (Michael Lewis, along with my friend Dan Rosenheck of The Economist and The New York Times, are the others), so I speak their language. The analytical nerd in me finds the Wall Street aspect fascinating. The baseball fan in me is anxious to see if they’ll be celebrating their first World Series title by this time next year.
Aside from the overarching concept, I’m really looking forward to just talking to people. This is a team of fascinating characters. The Rays have Carlos Peña, a player so nice that I’ve been told he might invite me to his mom’s house for dinner five minutes after we meet. They’ve got Grant Balfour, whose Aussie accent and general demeanor makes him seem really low-key off the field–yet he looks like he’s going to bite your head off when he’s on the mound. You could probably write a whole book about the manager, Joe Maddon. He’s a quote machine, an amateur philosopher, a lover of fine wines and a covert stathead. We even wear similar glasses. B.J. Upton, Willy Aybar, Akinori Iwamura…there are interesting backstories and personalities up and down the roster.
I don’t have too many details to pass along at this time about the book process itself (publication date etc. still unknown). What I do know is that I’ll be spending a huge chunk of 2009 doing interviews, research and writing for this book, with a lot of travel in between. I’ve contributed to, co-authored, and edited a few books before. But those were always joint projects, where I applied my humble skills as best as I could and frankly, stood on the shoulders of giants. This will be my first solo book venture, which is both very exciting and very scary.
There will definitely be moments when I’m in a random St. Pete Holiday Inn, trying to chase down Dan Wheeler for an interview, up against a hard deadline. I’ll be relying on you, the loyal readers of JonahKeri.com, as my audience and my outlet, as I try to stay sane through what I’m sure will be a very challenging process. I’ll update you on the book’s progress, lean on you for support, even bounce ideas off you. This should be fun.
Oh, and one more thing. We haven’t settled on a title yet. I’ll be talking to my editors in the next few days. If you’ve got a great title idea in the meantime, feel free to pass it along.
Wish me luck!