Sports

2009 in review: strange but true

The San Antonio Spurs were at home against the Sacramento Kings on Halloween when the AT&T Center took on the look of a vampire's cave. A bat let loose from the rafters - or perhaps the darkest chamber of a fan's soul - began circling the court. Man Ginobili, the Spurs' star guard, had enough. With a looping lunge of a left hand that has sunk so many 3-pointers, he knocked the beast out of the air. Ginobili carried the critter off the court in his palm while the crowd roared, the demons of the night denied. Later - and no Transylvanian count ever dared admit this on his Facebook page - Ginobili said he had to be vaccinated for rabies. He also urged people to "avoid contact with bats, skunks, raccoons, rats and animals like that."

The New York Knicks were playing Maccabi Tel Aviv in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden when the visiting coach was ejected and refused to leave the floor. Enter Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman. He strode across the court, hoping to quiet the ruckus, and see if coach Pini Gershon could stay in the game. But the rules, as ordained by the high priests of the NBA office, stipulate that Gershon must leave, and thus it came to pass. Said Grossman: "I tried to make peace."

A women's team handball coach in Austria resigned after inexplicably crashing into an opposing player to stop a possible score. Gunnar Prokop, the coach of Hypo Niederoesterreich, said he will "go through this with a psychiatrist. ... I still can't understand why I've done this."

French tennis player Richard Gasquet said he ingested cocaine from a woman's kiss at a Miami nightclub. But as it turned out, the intoxicating kiss defense had legs: Gasquet avoided a long ban, and the International Tennis Federation's doping tribunal declared him "neither a cheat nor a user of drugs for recreational purposes."

In January, Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida asked that House votes - among them the Electoral College certification of the presidential election - be shifted so Florida and Oklahoma members could attend the BCS title game.

Wigan's players were so humiliated by their 9-1 loss at Tottenham that they offered to refund the cost of tickets to their fans that traveled to the game.

The minor league Brooklyn Cyclones promoted "Bellies and Baseball: A Salute to Pregnancy." A Lamaze class was held in center field, while a "craving station" offered pickles, ice cream and pizza. Anyone giving birth during the game would win lifetime season tickets.

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