Oddsmakers pick Yanks, Cards Series

LAS VEGAS -- Oddsmakers in Las Vegas have picked the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals as favorites to meet in the World Series and think New York has an overwhelming chance to win its first title since 2000.

The Yankees are 3-2 favorites to win the championship despite having to beat three teams to do it, oddsmaker Tony Sinisi of Las Vegas Sports Consultants said Wednesday.

"That's really prohibitive," Sinisi told The Associated Press. "It just looks like a Yankee year, and if it's not the Yankees, you can draw them from a hat."

The Yankees finished the season with baseball's best record, beating the wild card-winning Boston Red Sox by eight games in the AL East. Their 103 wins earned them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, which started Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins.

"The pieces to the puzzle are in place," Sinisi said. "Certainly there's a randomness to playoff baseball but the drop-off from the Yankees to any other team that you might like is significant."

The Twins, who beat the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night for the AL Central title, are a bigger underdog at 25-1 to win it all -- given the first-round matchup with New York -- than before the season started.

St. Louis is considered the National League favorite at 9-2 odds for the series, but not by much ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies (11-2) and Los Angeles Dodgers (6-1). Las Vegas Sports Consultants, which recommends betting lines for 90 percent of casinos in Nevada, set the Colorado Rockies' odds to win the World Series at 14-1.

Jay Rood, race and sports book director for casino operator MGM Mirage Inc., said he thinks the Cardinals are well-balanced with Cy Young contenders Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright and power-hitting Albert Pujols.

"I like the Cardinals a lot. I think they're going to be a tough team to go up against," said Rood, who gave the Cardinals 4-1 odds for the title at MGM Mirage's casinos.

Rood said the Cardinals have been popular among bettors in their first series against the Dodgers, despite Sin City's proximity to Los Angeles.

"I was expecting a little regional Dodger money but it hasn't shown up yet," he said.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants set World Series odds for Boston at 9-2 and the Angels at 11-2, and Rood said public support has been behind Los Angeles, despite the Angels losing 12 of their last 13 postseason games against the Red Sox dating to 1986.

Jay Kornegay, executive director of the race and sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton, said sports books would prefer a Yankees-Dodgers World Series because of large fan bases for both teams and the amount of betting they would generate.

But Kornegay said even that dream matchup would pale in comparison to the amount of betting done in a typical week on regular-season NFL games.

"A World Series game with those two teams in it would be very comparable to an average to just above-average college football game," he said.