Time is right to look at interleague play, future bets

I don’t know what was more shocking last week—that I actually turned a bit of a profit on the NBA Finals or that the players on France’s World Cup team threw a hissy fit and refused to play for their coach. (Really? France refusing to fight in an international event? How come we couldn’t wager on that?)

While we’re on the World Cup, is it any wonder why soccer will never catch on in this country? Endless ties. An average of about one goal per match. Referees who aren’t held accountable after completely butchering calls.

And don’t get me started on the vuvuzelas. Not to insult the South African culture, but I’d rather be subjected to 90 minutes of Madonna’s greatest hits while being repeatedly kicked in the crotch than attend a soccer match with those damn horns buzzing in my ears.

Back to the NBA Finals. It wasn’t easy, but my $600 wager on the Lakers to win the series at minus-200 odds came through ($300 win), making up for losses on the Lakers to win the series in six games ($50) and the Celtics plus the points in Game 1 ($110). Sure, the net result ($140) wouldn’t even cover John Daly’s happy-hour tab, but better to win than lose (or, yes, soccer fans, even tie). That bumped my bankroll up to $5,345.

This week, we check in on the boys of summer and take an early look ahead to the 2010-11 NBA season:

Out of Their League: Heading into the final week of American League vs. National League matchups, the teams with the best interleague records were the Red Sox (10-2), White Sox (10-2), Rangers (9-3), Tigers (9-3), Mets (9-3) and Braves (7-2). Those clubs having trouble with the opposite league include the Orioles (3-9), Nationals (3-9), Astros (2-10), Pirates (2-7) and Dodgers (2-7).

Of those in the latter group, only Los Angeles is a quality team. Then again, the Dodgers struggle with the AL like Roger Clemens struggles with the truth. After getting swept in Boston earlier this month, the Dodgers stood at 26-55 in their last 81 interleague games and 14-47 in their past 57 interleague road games.

L.A. closes out interleague play with a three-game home series against the Yankees (June 25-27), so if you’re interested in making a quick buck, look for New York to win at least two of three games.

Another matchup to keep an eye on is Red Sox at Giants. Boston improved to 73-25 against the NL with its sweep of the Dodgers, including 20-6 against the NL West. Meanwhile, San Francisco is 40-53 against the AL since 2005.

Championship Material: With the baseball season approaching the halfway mark, let’s take a look at the updated futures board and see where the major line moves are occurring. Such disappointing teams as the Cubs (from 14-to-1 to 75-to-1), White Sox (12-to-1 to 75-to-1) and Angels (17-to-2 to 30-to-1) have seen their World Series odds skyrocket, while surprises such as the Padres (200-to-1 to 65-to-1), Reds (100-to-1 to 40-to-1) and Twins (30-to-1 to 15-to-1) have been garnering support from bettors.

My current favorite plays? The Braves to win the World Series (10-to-1), the Rays to win the AL (4-to-1), and the Padres to win the NL (25-to-1).

Another L.A. Story?: Speaking of the futures board, the confetti was still falling inside the Staples Center after the Lakers’ victory in Game 7 when the oddsmakers were already looking ahead to next season. The early favorite? The Lakers, of course, at 7-to-2 odds, followed by Boston and Orlando (both 5-to-1), Cleveland (8-to-1) and Denver (10-to-1).

Because this figures to be one of the craziest offseasons in NBA history with stars such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Bosh testing the free-agent waters, I’d never recommend tying up your money for 12 months on an NBA futures wager. That said, keep an eye on line moves for the Nuggets and Magic, two young squads that shouldn’t have a lot of personnel turnover. Another team to track through the summer is Oklahoma City (15-to-1). The Thunder made the biggest leap this year and are only going to get better.