An anthology containing some of the most amusing, insightful, and moving sports writing from the past year. Sure, series editor Stout and guest editor Boswell (Cracking the Show, p. 294) might not have extended their search to every hamlet with a sports page, as the preponderance of Sports Illustrated and New Yorker pieces clearly indicates. However, the fact that nearly all of the submissions faithfully depict athletes and their exploits as part of a grander choreography clearly establishes that many of the authors included are famous (or infamous) for good reason. Among the best entries are Bruce Buschel's ""Lips Get Smacked,"" a profane, Runyonesque trip to an Atlantic City casino with Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra (""Watching Lenny Dykstra gamble is like having an orchestra seat at a one-character David Mamet tragicomic-psychodrama. You are appalled and delighted by the language and the largesse""); Davis Miller's ""The Zen of Muhammad Ali,"" a touching portrait of The Champ battling the march of time and Parkinson's Syndrome -- possibly the result of taking too many punches -- with a generosity and dignity that fans seldom attribute to sports heroes; and Frank Deford's ""Running Man,"" an examination of the far-reaching effect of Phil Knight and his $3.7 billion sneaker-making, sports-marketing, and entertainment colossus, Nike. Nearly all the selections display uncanny wit and flourish, and these writers have the imagination to shun the obvious ""feet of clay"" athlete profiles to deliver realistic, humane portraits of people who, like many of us, have either risen to face life's adversity or turned tail and fled. Not just the best sports writing, some of the best writing anywhere. Period.