07/05/2004 12:00AM

Senior circuit backers win big


Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.

That famous 1970's jingle was bouncing through my head over the July 4th holiday. It also makes for a tidy weekend wrap-up column.


Interleague play wrapped up this past weekend in major league baseball with many intriguing rivalry matchups. Here's hoping that those who participate in our national pastime of sports wagering took my advice that was offered in last Friday's editions: "It might be the right time to back the NL teams, especially when not having to lay too big of a price."

The results are in. The Mets, underdogs in all three games despite being at home, swept the Yankees; the Cubs, modestly priced and even an underdog Saturday, swept the White Sox; the Padres swept the Royals; the Cardinals swept the Mariners; the Rockies swept the Tigers; the Phillies won two of three over the Orioles; the Reds won two of three over the Indians; the Braves won two of three over the Red Sox; the Expos won two of three over the Blue Jays; the Astros won two of three over the Rangers; and the Dodgers even won two of three vs. the Angels while being the only NL team in interleague play to be on the road.

Overall, NL teams went 30-12 over the weekend - including a very impressive 12-2 on Sunday - which was very profitable, especially considering there were very few times (twice by my count) that NL bettors had to lay more than -200, and many times they were actually home dogs.

Yes, I know - I wish I had bet them all, too!

Hot dogs

The most exciting event of the weekend was the 12-minute Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest from Coney Island, N.Y.

Takeru Kobayashi, the three-time defending champion, devoured the competition, eating a record 53 1/2 hot dogs and buns in the allotted 12 minutes.

Last year, BetWWTS.com had Kobayashi, who set the previous record of 50 1/2 in 2002, at odds of 1-6. This year, he was again the overwhelming favorite in the field of 20.

The dogs - and I mean both the actual hot dogs and the human competitors - didn't have a chance.

Apple pie

I took my family to McDonald's and ordered some apple pies. Okay, that has nothing to do with sports, but sometimes you have to take literary license.

So this section will encompass all other slices from the sporting world that don't fit other categories:

* On Saturday, Russia's Maria Sharapova upset the United States' Serena Williams in straight sets to win the Wimbledon women's title. Sharapova, the 17-year-old phenom who had never been in a Grand Slam final before, was a 30-1 shot at the start of the tournament. She was between a 7-2 and 4-1 underdog vs. Williams.

* Andy Roddick became the second American to lose a Wimbledon final when he lost to Switzerland's Roger Federer in four sets. It was the first men's Wimbledon final since 1982 that featured the top two seeds. Federer, the 5-4 pre-tournament favorite, was -350 vs. Roddick.

* Americans continued to have a non-winning weekend, as even Lance Armstrong finished well back in the first two stages of the Tour de France. It should be pointed out, however, that he was in fourth-place overall after Monday's stage. Armstrong is playing the role of stalker and is as big a favorite as Kobayashi was at Coney Island.

* In one international sport that America didn't participate over the weekend, Greece pulled an unlikely upset by winning the Euro 2004 soccer tournament with a 1-0 victory over host Portugal on Sunday. Greece, which was offered at 50-1 at most Las Vegas sports books and as high as 100-1 by Britain's Ladrokes chain, was a +190 underdog as well on Sunday.


Jeff Gordon, the fourth choice at between 8-1 and 10-1 at Vegas sports books, won his second straight Nascar Nextel Cup race in the Pepsi 400 under the lights Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Gordon, in case you haven't surmised, drives a Chevy. In fact, runner-up Jimmie Johnson and third-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. also drove Chevrolets, as did eight of the top 10 finishers. Micah Roberts, auto racing oddsmaker for the Station Casinos, had Chevrolet as a -250 favorite to be the winning manufacturer over Ford/Dodge at +200.

Earnhardt's team, DEI, has been the leader in races at restrictor-plate tracks in recent years, but this was Gordon's second straight win under those rules (he won earlier this year at Talladega).