OFF THE CUFF . . . The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, budgeted for $472 million, are probably going to be the model by which all future events of this magnitude are structured. The '84 Games, because they have shifted costs to commercial sponsors while keeping new construction to a minimum, are expected to make a profit of several million dollars. Ticket sales are projected at $6 million or more, with an average price of $14 each. The LA Olympic Organizing Committee, extremely aware that air pollution is often higher during summer months, plans to schedule all outdoor events that require endurance during morning hours when smog levels are at their lowest.
Mike Ferraro, the former Yankee first base coach who has signed a two-year contract to manage the Cleveland Indians, is soft-pedaling any references to himself as a miracle worker. What Ferraro wants more than anything else is the gift of time from his new employers - time to work things out while not having to deliver a lot of victories. Mike says the Indians' biggest problem is defense , especially when it comes to turning the double play. Cleveland, which finished in a last place tie with Toronto this year in the American League East, hasn't been a late-season contender since 1959 and hasn't won a pennant since 1954. Ferraro is high on outfielder Von Hayes, who drove in 82 runs last year as a rookie.
OFF THE GRAPEVINE . . . Scouts from the Pacific-10 Conference, whose champion meets Michigan in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Jan. 1, think the Wolverines can be defensed if certain last-second adjustments are made at the line of scrimmage. But even if Michigan's running game is shut down, the Pac-10 representative will still have to find someone in its defensive secondary who can put the handcuffs on wide receiver Anthony Carter, the Wolverines' best pass receiver. Carter, who accelerates like a sports car, is almost impossible to stop one-on-one. Most National Football League scouts who like Carter's speed have at least some reservations about his lack of height and how this might affect him as a pro. If Anthony were 6-5 instead of 5-10 or maybe even smaller, there would be no questions.
Asked for a candid evaluation of the future of the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers, Coach Tom Nissalke replied: ''It is going to take several years to turn this franchise around. I think the owner (Ted Stepien) realizes now that it was a mistake to trade away so many of the team's future first-round draft picks. Basically a lot of patience, a lot of time, and a lot of money are going to have to be spent on this team. I think we have to begin by getting ourselves a hard-core of seven or eight players and then maybe we can speed things up by bringing in two quality free agents. However, their skills would have to fit with what we already have.'' Meanwhile Stepien has the Cavaliers up for sale.
OFF THE WALL . . . It took a while, including several meetings with his agent , but Soviet-born hockey player Victor Nechaev has finally signed a minor league contract with the NHL Los Angeles Kings. The clincher may have been a reported promise by Owner Jerry Buss that Victor would be given another chance to skate with the Kings before the end of the season. Part of Nechaev's problem is that he thinks he is more advanced than he really is. . . . Talk about self-motivation - the well-balanced New York Islanders, first non-Canadian team to win three consecutive Stanley Cups, have adopted the slogan, ''Bring Fourth the Cup!'' Al Arbour, now in his 10th year as coach of the Islanders, is very big on videotapes and advanced scouting reports, and even has his own home-game crew of statisticians who report to him after every period. French-speaking Canadian writers like Arbour because he often answers their questions in their native language.
If major league baseball decides to look within its own ranks for a successor to commissioner Bowie Kuhn, it would do well to consider General Manager Harry Dalton of the Milwaukee Brewers. Dalton would be good for three reasons: (1) he knows the inner workings of the game and its owners; (2) he organizes well; and (3) he gets along with people. . . . The fact that Joe Altobelli, and not longtime Baltimore coach Cal Ripken was named to succeed Earl Weaver as manager of the Orioles may have had something to do with shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. also being on the team. The feeling is that Oriole players might be uneasy about their clubhouse chatter if the boss's son were always within earshot. While it's true that players often become emotionally critical after a game and say things they don't always mean, my guess is that if the choice had been Weaver's, Cal Sr. would have gotten the job.