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Soccer's not at fever pitch in WNY

Team USA's dramatic win over Algeria in the World Cup on Wednesday broke the soccer ratings and viewership record for the ESPN networks. The game had a 4.6 national rating, with an estimated 6.16 million viewers in 4.58 million households, according to the network.

The World Cup is averaging a 1.8 U.S. rating in the games played through Wednesday. In Buffalo, however, the average rating is just 1.38. Western New York is ranked 49th out of the 56 metered markets, according to ESPN figures.

While Buffalo is "a drinking town with a football problem," according to the slogan on T-shirts, that apparently doesn't extend to futbol.

Because the games are in South Africa, they are televised live here during the day, when many of us work for a living.

The way around that for some soccer fans is to watch the match broadcasts online, and ESPN on Wednesday set records there, too. The U.S.-Algeria game was seen by nearly 1.1 million viewers, the largest U.S. online audience for a soccer game ever.

ESPNsoccer.net.com generated 8.8 million visits on Wednesday, also a record.

> The day that was

Wednesday was like an all-you-eat buffet for sports fans, both on TV and online.

In addition to the U.S. World Cup win, there was the marathon match at Wimbledon in which John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played seven hours of tennis, before the match was suspended by darkness until the next morning.

After lunchtime came the mild earthquake -- not a sports event, but one that seemed to send everyone in Western New York to some social networking site.

At 2 p.m., WECK Radio host Brad Riter wrote on Facebook: "What's the record for most consecutive status updates posting the exact same question? I think it may have just been set."

Chris "Bulldog" Parker on WGR Radio said he was checking Twitter after the quake and his co-host, Mike Schopp, was checking Facebook to see what others were saying.

Schopp and the Bulldog's main topic of conversation that day was whether the U.S. soccer win was the second-greatest national team victory, after the Miracle on Ice.

Later that evening, Ryan Miller and Tyler Myers collected their honors at the NHL Awards ceremony from Las Vegas, carried on Versus. It was a nice nightcap to a memorable day.

> Blake vs. Shriver

A wild exchange between a broadcaster and a player at Wimbledon this week got overshadowed by the Isner match.

American James Blake was in the process of losing to Robin Haase while Pam Shriver and her crew mates were in a new broadcasting perch located directly above Blake. Shriver was describing how Blake doesn't seem to play well at Wimbledon and Blake was able to hear her comments.

Blake turned to look up at Shriver and said, "Amazing you used to play tennis. I can still hear you."

That was strange enough, but Shriver -- a former world-class player -- didn't just let it go. Instead, she said on the telecast, "James just yelled at me. I'm way above the court, but evidently he can hear me. He's got rabbit ears."

After the next point, Blake fired back: "You have to be an [expletive] about it, too? And act like I'm at fault?"

Shriver's response: "And there he is. Talking again."

Shriver made sort of an apology for the incident the next day, but Blake had a point. As a former player, doesn't Shriver know better?

> Yada, yada, yada

Jerry Seinfeld made an appearance in the SportsNet New York booth for 4 1/2 innings during Wednesday night's Tigers-Mets game.

"You know, you could do this," Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen said to Seinfeld. "I think I am doing it," he replied.

Among Seinfeld's other lines:

"When these two teams meet, you can throw the records out. This is a storied rivalry that's one game old."

On Lady Gaga's appearance June 10 at a Mets-Padres game: "I heard she was wearing some sort of studded bikini thing, and that's always great at a baseball game."

e-mail: gconnors@buffnews.com

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