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Watching the games this week featuring Boston at Philadelphia, and Milwaukee at the New York Yankees, reminded me that I hadn't checked in for awhile on futures prices to win the World Series.

Those four teams are typically the top favorites right now in many sportsbooks. In fact, if teams play to their prices…then Boston/Philly really was a World Series preview even if neither team looked like they were in championship form this week. The Yankees and Brewers fall next in the futures ladder in most places…though Texas has better odds than Milwaukee in some.

Here's a quick ballpark range of where everyone stands in the futures prices heading into the final weekend of Interleague play.

FAVORITES
Philadelphia +250
Boston +300
NY Yankees +400
Milwaukee +900
Texas +1100

Now, I'm putting up ballpark ranges there. If you shop around, you'll find better prices on each of those (and worse too for that matter, but who wants to shop for worse prices?!). Texas was as low as +700 at an offshore place, but as high as +1600 at another. Futures often provide big swings like that the further you get away from the true favorites. Stores price to their clientele. And, once you get past a certain range, the odds are so much against any individual team going the distance that the differences in prices aren't as dramatic as you might think. If you have one team at +2000, and another at +5000, the reality is that NEITHER has much of a chance.

One thing we learned last year though was that the biggest favorites can be badly overpriced, and logical contenders can make you some big money. Nobody was expecting San Francisco vs. Texas in the World Series. Picking San Francisco to win the World Championship would have seemed pretty crazy given all the other good teams in the mix…and given the AL's dominance over the NL the past several years. Yet…there were the Giants enjoying a parade when it was all said and done.

Here are some teams who have the chance to make things interesting later in 2011:

Atlanta: +1300
San Francisco: +1500
Detroit +1600
St. Louis +1900
Tampa Bay +2100
Cincinnati +2300
Cleveland +2500
Arizona +3200
Chicago White Sox +3200

Some good pitchers will be on the mound for Atlanta and San Francisco if they can get into the playoffs. Does Detroit have enough behind Justin Verlander to go deep in October? Somebody's going to win the AL Central. Whoever does would be a big payoff team if the stars are aligned.

Only eight teams will ultimately make the playoffs. And, baseball is usually a crapshoot for those eight teams because of the nature of the sport. I'm not recommending that you bet irresponsibly on MLB futures. I do think there's value to be found on the board if you:

A: think about what team characteristics usually win championships, particularly in the areas of frontline pitching.

B: shop around for the very best price on the team you've selected.

It's true that most Futures bets are sucker bets because the payoffs usually don't reflect the true odds of any individual team winning. Given the big differences out there in pricing at various locations, I think there's a good chance that a real contender has actually been badly priced this year.

I'm sad to see Interleague play come to an end this year. But, I am looking forward to this final weekend. Matchups I'm paying the most attention to are:

Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs (a lot of transplanted Chicagoans in Nevada)
NY Yankees at NY Mets (a lot of transplanted New Yorkers in Nevada)
LA Dodgers at LA Angels (Vegas is basically a suburb of LA!)
San Francisco at Detroit
St. Louis at Tampa Bay
Philadelphia at Toronto

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