Redskins wary; White Sox need Luzinski's bat; NBA gears up
Even though the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins have won three of their first four games this season, head coach Joe Gibbs still sees all kinds of mental potholes in the road ahead. Gibbs is particularly concerned that the three Super Bowl winners who preceded the Redskins (Pittsburgh, Oakland, and San Francisco) all got shot down the following season - probably as much by their lack of concentration as anything else.
''We're not a dominating team,'' Joe told reporters. ''We have to get a maximum effort from everyone on our squad or we don't get the job done. Maybe there was a time when it was possible to beat opposing teams because they made too many mistakes in personnel or were poorly organized. But every front office is so well run today that there probably aren't going to be any dominant teams as far as winning the Super Bowl every year goes. What I am referring to is the 1970s when the Miami Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers put together programs that surged past everybody else. I don't see that happening again, although I certainly don't want the Redskins to be remembered as a one-year sensation.''
IN THE DUGOUT . . . if the Chicago White Sox make it to the World Series this year, and that would mean winning a best-of-five playoff from the Baltimore Orioles, Manager Tony La Russa says that he will definitely play slugger Greg Luzinski at first base. During the regular season, of course, Tom Paciorek was Chicago's first baseman, with Luzinski serving as the club's designated hitter. However, this is the every-other-year World Series in which the DH will not be allowed.
''When anyone refers to Greg as our designated hitter, he really isn't telling the whole story,'' La Russa explained. ''What makes Luzinski different is that he is really our No. 4 hitter, who we have to keep in our lineup every day if we're going to win. I think a lot of people have the wrong idea that because Greg isn't streamlined physically, he won't be mobile enough to do the job. Well, Luzinski was a first baseman in Philadelphia's minor league farm system and probably would have continued to play there if the Phillies hadn't needed an outfielder at the time he came up. Once Greg gets over the feeling that everybody in the ballpark is looking at him, I think he'll become comfortable at first base very quickly. As for Paciorek, who is also a good hitter but without Luzinski's power, I'll find a place to play him too.''
OFF THE GRAPEVINE . . . from a public relations standpoint, their timing is atrocious, but all 23 National Basketball Association teams open their training camps either today or tomorrow - right in the middle of a big football weekend and just before the start of the baseball playoffs. The reason for the delay for some franchises is because of an agreement with the NBA Players' Association that prohibits teams from practicing until 28 days before their first game. For the record, 18 teams will see regular season action on October 28, the remainder the following day.
In what should be a problem for fans with short memories, nine NBA franchises will have new coaches this season, although they are all more or less familiar names. Three coaches have switched teams - Bill Fitch going from the Boston Celtics to the Houston Rockets; Stan Albeck from the San Antonio Spurs to the New Jersey Nets; and Kevin Loughery from the Atlanta Hawks to the Chicago Bulls. Four others have moved up from the ranks of assistant coaches into head jobs. Mike Fratello will now coach the Atlanta Hawks; John Bach the Golden State Warriors; Mo McHone the San Antonio Spurs; and Jim Lyman the San Diego Clippers. Meanwhile two former NBA head coaches are getting another chance to establish themselves as winners. That would be Chuck Daly with the Detroit Pistons and K. C. Jones with the Boston Celtics.
WHAT NEXT? . . . Col. F. Don Miller, executive director of the United States Olympic Committee, was quoted this week to the effect that some US and foreign athletes deliberately performed poorly in last month's Pan American Games. Miller said they did it rather than face medical tests (given to winners) that could have detected the presence of illegal drugs in their systems. . . . Insiders claim that Dennis Conner, the losing skipper when Australia II beat Liberty in the America's Cup finals, hurt US chances by not cooperating more with other American boat syndicates originally involved in the competition. They also say that it was a mistake when Freedom, the 1980 Cup defender, was used only as a trial boat to practice against and not given a chance to make the main event. . . . If you are wondering why tycoon Harry Mangurian sold the Boston Celtics, consider the fact that the new owners have just given forward Larry Bird a new contract calling for a reported 5 million for seven years. Now Celtics' center Robert Parish, unhappy with his $650,000-a-year deal that still has 3 more seasons to run, has asked to have his contract renegotiated. . . . The unbeaten Nebraska Cornhuskers, who might be the best pro team in the college ranks, drew this comment from UCLA Offensive Coordinator Homer Smith: ''Nebraska comes at you in so many ways that offensively they remind me of no other college team I've ever seen.''