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Sox Series Success Drives Futures

Chicago's Cubs always have been a huge drawing card as far as Major League Baseball futures are concerned, while the crosstown rival White Sox have been regarded as the proverbial Little Sisters of the Poor. An upper echelon club versus a lower mid-level one. But hey, hey, holy cow! The Southsiders are garnering more action than the Northsiders this year . albeit not much. And the Mets are hotter than the Yankees, thanks to some hefty off-season acquisitions. "We're still getting plenty of Cubs money," Las Vegas Hilton oddsmaker/supervisor Jeff Sherman said with a laugh.

"The White Sox are the most heavily-bet team we have and the Cubs are second," Palms Race and Sports Director Rich Baccellieri said. The White Sox have dropped from 12/1 to 6/1 to win the World Series at the Hilton and to 5/1 at the Palms, while the Cubs -- 20/1 when betting opened -- are 12/1 at the Hilton and 9/1 at the Palms. "The Cubs are so low because we've taken so much money on them," Baccellieri said. "I think the Hilton and Palms offer players the fairest odds in town," he added. "You can always expect good things from the Hilton . the Palms too.

" The Cubs always are a big attraction, partially because they developed so many fans when SuperStation WGN was in its infancy and provided fans throughout America with their only daily dose of baseball. Also, it has been 98 years since the Bruins last won the World Series and 61 since they've copped a pennant -- the longest in baseball since the Chisox carted off the whole ball of wax last season. Long-suffering Cubs fans annually fill sports book coffers with futures dollars, always hoping "next year" finally will arrive. "They look at the last two teams to win the Series and they were clubs who hadn't won in a long time, so they think, 'This could be the year,'" Baccellieri said. Geography also weighs heavily among futures players; Los Angeles' two clubs annually lure the cash, though Padre and Diamondback futures appear to rise and fall depending on the talent. Baccellieri has the Angels at 14/1 and Dodgers at 25/1.

"They're up there, absolutely," he said. The Angels, 2005 AL West Division champs, are 12/1 at the Hilton and the Dodgers are 20/1. Las Vegas is a cosmopolitan city with transplants from across America and beyond; many are from the Big Apple and Second City. Consequently, large sums pass over the counter on clubs from those metropolises. "They have huge numbers of backers," Baccellieri observed. A Yankees fan, Baccellieri agrees with Sherman that the Bronx Bombers will have to beef up their mounds corps if they hope to advance through the playoffs.

"They have problems with their pitching," he said. Though the Chisox have pulled in more dollars, the Yanks, as usual, are favorites to add another AL championsip to their already-stuffed trophy case. "Our four (World Series) favorites right now are the Yankees (3/1), the White Sox (5/1), the Mets (6/1) and St. Louis ((7/1)," Baccellieri said.

Hilton odds are the Yankees, 4/1; Cardinals and Chisox, 6/1; and Mets, 8/1. Bacellieri, who left Caesars Palace to take over the Palms slot, says bettors wager a lot more on World Series futures than they do the two pennants; odds between the two basically are halved. "I guess they're looking for the longer odds, though you have to win one more series of gammes, but we get so much more on the World Series," he said. The Palms bet shop boss again agrees with Sherman that the bulk of action will come shortly before the season starts on April 2. "We'll have big crowds in for the NCAA Tournament (in March) and they'll be ready for the bases and next season's football," Baccellieri concluded. .

By: Lynda Collins



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