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Venus victory outpoints Federer's

This is what I'm thinking:

*In a classy moment after she won another Wimbledon tennis title, Venus Williams thanked pioneer Billie Jean King for helping get equal pay for women.

But the ratings for the sexes weren't equal in Buffalo. Venus' win over France's Maria Bartoli Saturday out-rated the classic five-set match Sunday won by Roger Federer of Switzerland over Rafael Nadal of Spain.

I guess that shows that patriotism trumps sexism in Western New York. Williams was the only American to play in the finals. The coverage of her two-set match had about a 3.7 rating on WGRZ-TV, well above Saturday's national average of 2.2.

Federer's historic win barely averaged a 3.0 rating here (nationally, Sunday had a 2.7) primarily because the early tune-in was low.

The commentators on NBC and ESPN2 cover the sport extremely well, led by John McEnroe, Mary Carillo and Ted Robinson. McEnroe's trip down memory lane Sunday with Bjorn Borg about their classic battles was priceless. Australian analyst Darren Cahill, who isn't as enthusiastic as McEnroe, also was impressive on ESPN2 predicting winners and explaining strategy. He used to coach Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi, so you know he knows his stuff.

*Many people consider Western New York to be a big baseball area. But the rating for the American League's 5-4 victory over the National League in Tuesday's All-Star game was only a 7.0 on Fox affiliate WUTV until 11 p.m., and it slipped to a 6.3 in the final hour. It averaged an 8.4 national rating.

The premiere of the NBC reality series, "The Singing Bee" (10.8 rating), dominated the game locally. The low All-Star rating was especially baffling since it was a good game that wasn't decided until the last out.

One highlight was the fourth-inning discussion among play-by-play man Joe Buck, analyst Tim McCarver and reporter Ken Rosenthal about Barry Bonds' place in history in light of the steroid scandal. The overwhelming tone was forgiveness because it may take decades to understand what percentage of players were using performance enhancements during the time Bonds played.
Coupled with a soft interview with Bonds and praise from his former Pittsburgh manager, Jim Leyland (who now is the Detroit manager and managed the A.L.), Bonds couldn't have asked for better TV treatment.

*I'm all for Buffalo being the host of the proposed Ice Bowl game with the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Year's Day on NBC even if it gives "Pardon the Interruption" co-host Michael Wilbon more opportunity to poke fun at Buffalo's weather. Though most of America will be focused on college football bowls on Jan. 1, the hockey game can't have a much lower rating than the skating special NBC ran last Jan. 1.

The likelihood is it is going to happen. But you wonder, why would the Bills give up Ralph Wilson Stadium on Jan. 1 when there's a chance (slim as it may be) they'd be preparing for a playoff game and the hockey game has the potential to damage the football field? And if 75,000 people show up from Buffalo and Pittsburgh, wouldn't that reduce the local rating in a Buffalo market that gets the NHL's highest-ratings?

The NHL apparently isn't concerned that the Sabres look like a less competitive team after losing co-captains Daniel Briere and Chris Drury. The irony is NBC only carried the Sabres once in the regular season last year when they were the league's best team.

*Buffalo Sabres fans looking for a badly-needed chuckle should head to the YouTube, where a take-off on the opening of "The Sopranos" is posted. I must admit I didn't expect such a positive ending to the 90-second clip.

*The Buffalo Bills Aug. 30 game in Detroit is one of eight preseason games being carried live by the NFL Network. It should be blacked out here on the satellite systems that carry it because the game is also on Channel 7. The NFL Network simulcast of local coverage usually uses the announcers for each team for one half each . . . WNGS-TV has agreed to carry a six-week syndicated football package of Mid-American Conference games from ESPN regional television. The University at Buffalo isn't on the schedule.

*WNGS, which carries a good deal of major league baseball games, was supposed to be on DirecTV by now. Channel 7's Mike Nurse (the station has an arrangement with WNGS) said a technical issue is behind the delay. He has been told it should happen within two weeks.


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