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Not again!

Feb 17, 2004 3:41 AM

Somehow, someway the Yankees always manage to stick it to Boston.

"The response was immediate when word came out Saturday that Alex Rodriguez was headed to New York," said Wayne Braddock, race and sports director at the Eldorado in downtown Henderson.

"We had the Yanks at 5-2 to win the World Series and it immediately went down to 2-1," Braddock said. "The price to win the AL pennant dropped from 2-1 to 7-5. We still have Boston favored to win both the pennant (6-5) and Series (7-1). But all the talk is about how the Yanks did it to the Red Sox again."

A-Rod is merely the latest stab in the back George Steinbrenner has levied against his hated rivals, and brings up a legitimate question. "Just how could Red Sox management allow the Yanks to get A-Rod when they blew the chance by offering Nomar Âí­Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez?

Could Red Sox management believe A-Rod could not make the transition to third base? While baseball fans and media can debate whether this helps or further ruins the sport, it only helps Vegas books when the Yankees are involved.

"We should be taking wagers on the first exhibition games in two weeks," said Braddock, whose book is still basking in the recent merger or Boyd Gaming and Coast Casinos. "It will make both companies stronger. It’s great, a real shot in the arm for us. Employees at our property are in favor of it."

The Anaheim Angels, as of Sunday morning, were the third choice to win the AL pennant at 7-2 and 7-1 to capture the Series. The Cubs are favored to win the NL pennant (4-1) and are 7-1 to win the Series. NL Central rival Houston is next at 8-1 to win the world championship.

"It’s unbelievable what Steinbrenner can do," Braddock said. "This deal might put them off the map. It will make lines so high it will be hard to bet the Yanks. There will be —300 games on a regular basis. A lot of people will be betting the run line." But, you can bet the wiseguys will be involved.

We’re Covered

Covers.com, an popular Internet site based out of Nova Scotia, Canada, recently wrote a positive piece on Dartmouth and its amazing "spread" record compared to its woeful 3-17 season mark. Good column, but old news with us.

For the record, we noted several weeks ago the overall strength of the Ivy League compared to the usual pattern of Penn and Princeton dominating the league. Actually Covers missed the boat on Cornell, the real ATS bargain, but we’ll acknowledge the Big Green, which opened 5-2 ATS in Ivy play. Penn, which began 0-3 ATS, reeled off two easy covers and has great value now.

We’ll even go a step further regarding the national picture. Last week’s we cited betting with NC State, Southern Illinois, Texas El Paso and Wright State, while betting against Citadel. NC State came up with a huge victory as a home dog against previously No. 1-ranked Duke.

We are still high on Gonzaga, our early-ine choice to at least reach the Final Four.

Here are a few to chew on this week, against the spread of course.

EVANSVILLE: The Purple Aces are a disappointing 5-17 SU and 4-10 ATS, but have managed to go 4-2 against the number in the past six contests. Evansville has been a reliable team for me as an underdog over the years.

ELON: The Fighting Christians are 5-1 vs the spread in the past six contests, and 8-4 in the Northern Division of the Southern Conference. Elon is not going anywhere this year, but is definitely worth a play on the added games sheet.

VANDERBILT: The Commodores might be a good go-against team, after compiling a 2-4 ATS mark in its last six SEC games. Vandy is 15-6, so its real betting value comes as a favorite.

WASHINGTON: The Huskies 8-5 ATS mark look a great deal better, considering the 7-2 mark in the past nine games. With Stanford and Arizona clearly the best of the Pac 10, Washington looks strong as a play vs the rest of the league.