According to many baseball prognosticators, the Philadelphia Phillies have the best starting rotation in the history of mankind, making the team preseason odds-on favorites to win the 2011 World Series.

Wagering on the World Series is as American as hot dogs and apple pie. The mother of all World Series bets came in 1919, when gamblers led by Arnold Rothstein paid such Chicago White Sox players as Chick Gandil, Swede Risberg, Eddie Cicotte  and (“Say it ain’t so”) “Shoeless” Joe Jackson to throw the Series against the Cincinnati Reds.

However, when it comes to the time-honored tradition of friendly wagers, it’s rarely money that is on the line.

In fact, over the years, politicians, clergymen, media members and other fans of rival World Series teams have wagered everything from ten tons of fruit from the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market, San Diego fish tacos, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and pastrami sandwiches from New York’s 2nd Avenue Deli to a jersey autographed by Michael Jordan, rare white lion cubs and naming rights to a roller coaster.

So maybe it’s time to ante up some goodies on Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels (pictured) to be leading a Philadelphia victory parade in November.

Or maybe not. As the old saying goes, “A fool and his money are easily parted.” Or as W.C. Fields more aptly put it, “It is morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money.”

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