among them—in his look at the pivotal
2010–2011 NBA season, The Soul of
Basketball (HMH, Feb. 2018), when
James’s ill-advised decision to play for
the Miami Heat paved the way for a new
generation of superstars.
Meanwhile, scientific and technological advances in materials, training,
nutrition, and medicine have contributed to a new generation of stronger and
faster athletes. Rayvon Fouché, a professor at Purdue University, examines
this development through the lens of
elite athletes including Michael Phelps
and Usain Bolt, in Game Changer (Johns
Hopkins Univ., June).
An entirely different skill set is required
to make a team run properly. Two former
front-office executives offer nuanced perspective into baseball. Ned Colletti, the Los
Angeles Dodgers’ general manager for nine
years, reveals how a baseball franchise really
works, including how much power the
players actually have, in The
Big Chair (Putnam, Oct.).
Keith Law, an analyst for
ESPN’s Baseball Tonight
and former special assistant to the Blue Jays’ general manager, focuses on
key figures of a different
Smart Baseball (Morrow, May). Harper
says Law’s book debunks the usefulness of
some statistics, including batting average,
earned run average, and saves, in favor of
more recent statistics such as WAR (wins
above replacement) and OPS (on-base
plus slugging). “These numbers really are
the future of the game, in the sense that
more and more teams are using them to
make their decisions on and off the field.”
Understanding them, Harper says, can
add a dimension to the fan’s experience.
Traditionalists may balk, but “you’re
going to have a better understanding of
where the game is and where it’s headed
if you are tapped into those kinds of
A Spiritual Biography
THE FAITH OF A
Michael G. Long and Chris Lamb
Paper • $17.00
“This is a good pick
for baseball fans and those
interested in civil rights and
the role of Christianity in sports.”
Professional wrestling thrives on what Jason Katzman, an editor at Skyhorse,
calls the “soap opera story line.” But under the artifice and drama,
wrestlers are real people, and many of the fans who tune in each week to
Monday Night Raw want to hear their stories: how a favorite wrestler made
it to the big time or what happens when he or she heads backstage.
Below, we present five contenders who will engage in a literary cage
match for readers’ attention.
In this corner, Crazy is My Superpower by A.J. Mendez Brooks (Crown
Archetype, Apr.) reveals the recently retired WWE superstar’s journey from
poverty and familial abuse to the pinnacle of her profession.
Next, vaulting into the ring, WWE legend Chris Jericho unleashes 22
principles on how to make it in your field, using his experiences as examples, in
No Is a Four-Letter Word (Da Capo, Sept.).
But good God almighty, it’s Jim Ross! In Slobberknocker (Sports Publishing,
Oct.), the legendary wrestling announcer tells his life story, including his time
nurturing the likes of the Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
Justin Roberts storms through the crowd with his journey from wrestling fanatic to
WWE ring announcer in Best Seat in the House (Meyer & Meyer, Apr.).
And, finally, 16-time world champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and his daughter
Charlotte, four-time Raw Women’s Champion, leap from the top rope with
their joint autobiography, Second Nature (St. Martin’s, Aug.). —P.C.
Pete Croatto’s sportswriting has appeared in
Grantland, the New York Times, Slam, and