A DECADE AFTER blowing the lid off of Saturday Night Live with a revealing oral history, authors Jim Miller and Tom Shales—artists at cajoling unflattering reminiscences—will lift the curtain in May on another TV institution, ESPN, with Those Guys Have All the Fun. Culled from 550-plus interviews with current and past employees (as well as athletes and industry insiders) down to 650 pages of juice, the book has been under a cloak of secrecy (no advance copies), igniting a black market bidding war for a leaked copy. In November one ESPN anchor was even said to have lost a contract extension because of incidents unveiled within the book. Who could that anchor be? Ask again in May.
THE 75-POUND, 20-by-20-inch Official MLB Opus: Marquee Edition isn't so much a coffee table book as it is a coffee table: at $3,000 for one of its 1,000 copies, Opus costs about as much as a high-end piece of living room furniture. (That explains the included white gloves.) But for the die-hard fan, reproductions of rare baseball memorabilia mined from Cooperstown, a six-foot-wide gatefold dedicated to trading cards, and photo essays from photographers such as SI's Walter Iooss Jr. all combine to create a high-def, cinematic experience of a book that is worth every penny.
Everything You Know Is Pong, Roger Bennett and Eli Horowitz argue with mock seriousness that table tennis is the world's sport. Good luck refuting that. Well documented is the role of Ping-Pong diplomacy in opening China to the West; but who knew that table tennis played a part in Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution? Woven among essays by the likes of Nick Hornby and Jonathan Safran Foer, for whom Ping-Pong tables formed the centerpieces of their youths, are tales of table tennis cameos in the pop culture of 1950s Madison Ave., '60s Catskills resorts, '70s video games and beyond. Ping-Pong may be lowbrow to some, but these authors go far to liberate it from the suburban basement rec room.