10/18/2006 12:00AM

2007 World Series favorite: Guess who?


The Yankees haven't won a World Series since 2000, their season ended with an unceremonious 3-1 series loss to the Tigers in the first round, the team went through a very public near-firing of manager Joe Torre, then had to deal with the death of pitcher Cory Lidle, and now it's likely that one of their biggest stars, Alex Rodriguez, will be traded.

But it should surprise no one that the Yankees are being installed as the favorites to win next year's World Series. They will still have a powerful lineup, the highest payroll, and, well, they're the Damn Yankees.

The Las Vegas Hilton has the Bronx Bombers as the 9-2 favorite to win the 2007 World Series (Caesars Palace has them even lower at 4-1). The Mets and Twins are next at 7-1, followed by the Tigers at 8-1; the Red Sox, White Sox, and Angels at 10-1; the Dodgers and A's at 12-1; the Cardinals and Phillies at 20-1; and the Padres, Cubs, Astros, Blue Jays, and Indians at 30-1.

The highest odds on the board are the Devil Rays and Royals at 500-1 apiece. It's interesting to note that the Royals do have a lot of young talent and actually swept the Tigers, who were fighting for the AL Central title and home-field advantage in the divisional series, over the final weekend of the regular season. It's a longshot to think the Royals could leap over the Tigers, Twins, and White Sox next year and make a run at the title, but their odds should be lower than the D-Rays, who have to climb over the Yankees and Red Sox and, well, they're the D-Rays.

More future book odds

With the NBA season ready to tip off in a week and a half, this is as good a time as any to take a look at future-book odds for that sport and others.

NBA: According to the oddsmaking firm Las Vegas Sports Consultants, the Mavericks are the 4-1 favorite with the defending champion Heat and the Spurs at 9-2, the Suns at 5-1, the Pistons at 7-1, Cavaliers at 10-1, the Nets at 15-1, and the Bulls, Nuggets, Pacers, and Clippers at 20-1. The Bulls have been bet down to 5-1 at several Las Vegas books.

NCAA basketball: Midnight Madness practices have already taken place. Defending champion Florida is the 4-1 favorite to repeat, with Kansas and North Carolina at 6-1, Ohio State at 8-1, Duke at 12-1, UCLA and Georgetown at 18-1, Arizona and LSU at 22-1, and Pittsburgh at 25-1.

NHL: The Ottawa Senators are the 11-2 favorite to win the Stanley Cup, with the Red Wings at 7-1, the Hurricanes at 8-1, and the Ducks, Stars, Devils, and Sharks at 10-1.

NFL: LVSC now has the Bears as the 5-2 favorite to win the Super Bowl, just ahead of the preseason favorite Colts at 3-1, the Chargers and Seahawks at 6-1, the Patriots at 7-1, the Panthers at 8-1, the Bengals and Cowboys at 10-1, the Broncos at 12-1, the Eagles and Giants at 15-1, the Ravens and Jaguars at 16-1, and the surprising Saints now at 20-1 (down from opening odds of 80-1). The defending champion Steelers are 22-1. With the emergence of the Bears, the Super Bowl line, which had been hovering around AFC -5 just a few short weeks ago, has been lowered to AFC -2 1/2 at Station Casinos. The total is still set at 47 1/2.

NCAA football: No. 1 ranked Ohio State is the 4-5 favorite to win the BCS championship game on Jan. 8 at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

Nextel Cup halfway through Chase

The Chase for the Cup, the 10-week end-of-the-season race for the Nextel Cup points championship, has five races down and five to go.

This week, the Nascar circuit moves to Martinsville for Sunday's Subway 500. The race has a starting time of 10:15 a.m. Pacific, right after the bulk of the NFL schedule kicks off, and Jeff Gordon is the 5-1 favorite with Tony Stewart at 6-1, Jimmie Johnson at 7-1, Matt Kenseth at 10-1, and Denny Hamlin and last week's winner, Kasey Kahne, at 12-1.

Points leader Jeff Burton, who is 15-1 in Sunday's race, is now the 2-1 favorite to win the Chase for the Cup. He is 45 points (only true gearheads know exactly how the points system works) ahead of Kenseth, who is listed at 5-2, followed by Kevin Harvick at 4-1 and Johnson and Mark Martin at 10-1. Gordon, after his DNF last week at Charlotte, is now 95-1.

Mullins, Garcia to appear at Orleans

Monday is a relatively quiet day at race books here in Nevada during the fall after the Del Mar and Saratoga meets end, but the Coast Casinos try to spice things up with occasional promotions.

At 9:30 a.m. this Monday, trainer Jeff Mullins and jockey Martin Garcia will be in the Orleans race book for a meet-and-greet with fans. As part of the festivities, there will also be a free $1,000 handicapping contest on the first five races at Calder, which has a first post of 9:25 a.m. Vegas time.