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Giving TV shows a lot of love

It's Valentine's Day so it is a good time to talk about some of the things that you have to love in the TV sports world.

*I loved the interview that Mike Robitaille did with former Buffalo Sabre Larry Playfair about his career that appeared on "The Sabres Show" on Channel 2 last Sunday. Playfair had several interesting stories to tell about his many fights, including the final one in which he broke a player's jaw. He said he knew his heart was no longer in playing the enforcer role and that his career was over.

*I love how Buffalo fans are crazy about the National Football League. How crazy?

The meaningless Pro Bowl between the AFC and NFC All-Stars healthy enough to play had a 9.6 prime time rating on WGRZ last Sunday. Few NBC prime time entertainment series get a rating close to 9.6 here.

*I love to hear about how big an automobile racing market we live in. Not even the Pro Bowl can out-rate the coverage of the Daytona 500 here. Last year's race had an 11.6 rating, which would make it Fox's second most-popular show here behind "American Idol."

*I love how easy it is to follow your favorite college basketball team. Just about every Syracuse University game is carried on some network, enabling viewers to see how Niagara Falls products Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris are doing for the struggling Orange.

The next four games of the Niagara University men's basketball team will be televised, starting with tonight's game at Fairfield on ESPN2. Three of the four are on one of the ESPN networks.

*I already love the MLB Network for the exceptional way it covered the Alex Rodriguez steroid story a week ago. The story undoubtedly led many local viewers to find the new MLB Network on their cable systems. It is pretty high up on the channel roster at Channel 175, the last location on Time Warner before the pay-cable channels.

*I love how players like A-Rod try to play damage control. He chose ESPN's Peter Gammons to air his confession. Rodriguez noted that Gammons had covered him since he was a teenager, which seemed to explain why the reporter was chosen by A-Rod's handlers.

My favorite A-Rod admission in the lengthy interview was his explanation about why he denied steroid use in a December 2007 interview with CBS' Katie Couric. His defense essentially was that since he hadn't been truthful to himself at that point it was hard for him to be truthful to Couric. It was difficult to gauge how truthful A-Rod was being with Gammons since he gave so many non-answers when asked where he got the performance-enhancing drugs and claimed he didn't know what he was using.

*I love seeing or hearing someone deserving to get a chance to shine like WGR's Paul Hamilton. I heard several minutes of his radio play-by-play of the Portland-Albany game in HSBC Arena and was reasonably impressed. He follows the action well and has a decent excitement level.

*I love it when "Saturday Night Live" gives a politically incorrect take on a sports situation that is more honest than the mainstream media can be. On "Weekend Update" a week ago, anchor Seth Meyers questioned why the first inclination of someone who was at a party attended by Olympic star Michael Phelps would be to take a picture that would embarrass the swimmer and harm his reputation. And then the anchor added that whoever took the picture of Phelps smoking marijuana is . . . well, I can't repeat what he called the person. Without condoning what Phelps did and conceding that he should have known that his privacy wouldn't be protected by party-goers, it's hard to disagree with Meyers on this one.


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