New Orleans expects to ensconce a big-league baseball team in the Superdome for 1979 -- well, at least by 1980 -- and if they're not serious this time, why did they call a news conference about it yesterday?

Ed DeBartolo, the moneybags northeast Ohio developer, may have bought Junior the NFL 49ers a couple of years ago, but today he wouldn't leave the whole spotlight to the San Francisco football revolution under Ed Jr. Lookie here, Ed Sr.'s Louisiana operative tooted from Down Yonder:

"We are in serious negotiations with one team, maybe two," said Vincent J. Bartimo, president of DeBartolo's $32 million Louisiana Downs thoroughbred track.

Chimed in Denzil Skinner, who, manages the dome for Hyatt Corp., "We now have the viable financial interest and we are stating that we are on the prowl to purchase a baseball team and have it in the dome, hopefully this year... Seven days before the '78 season we could have gotten a franchise in here but we didn't have the money."

Now, said Skinner with the concurrence of Bartimo, who with DeBartolo "will be the principals -- the owners," no such problem. DeBartolo offered $14 million in an unsuccessful bid for the Boston Red Sox last year. Bartimo said he hopes to reach agreement with one of the teams he is dealing with in two or three weeks -- "I cannot say which one."

Another news conference slated in San Francisco today, at Candlestick Park -- Giant baseball owner Bob Lurie and visitor Rod Carew. The club stressed that the session won't deal with a signing, since the team cannot sign the Minnesota Twin star until interleague trading resumes next month (if he accepts the winter meetings swap he vetoed). But, again, why are they gathering the media if there's not something to say?

Bobby Mitchell was installed this week as president of the Redskins Alumni Association, and here's a team hospital report on three players hoping, we hope, not to become eligible for the alumni in '79: Jean Fugett had another knee operation (evidently minor) and hemorrhoid surgery on Thursday, is out of the hospital doing fine; Bill Brundige ditto after a Jan. 3 appendectomy. Dan Nugent goes into Sibley to have team physician Stan Lavine remove "loose bodies" in his right knee.

NFL coach of the year, by Associated Press: Seattle's Jack Patera. He got 25 of the 84 votes by media in league cities; next came Walt Michaels, Jets, 21: Dick Vermeil, Eagles 13; Bum Phillips, Oilers, 9. Hot midseason candidate Jack Pardee: 0.

My Easy Credit, only animal to win the triple crown of quarterhorse racing, has come to a tragic end at 5. The chestnut, valued at $2 million (under contract to breed 120 mares at a charge of $2,000 each), slipped and fell on icy ground in an exercise paddock at Edmond. Okla., farm owner Elliso Gragg said. "He must have reared up, feeling pretty good -- he had a habit of doing that -- when he slipped and fell backwards, hitting his head on a fence. It killed him instantly."

The 1979 PGA Tour starts today and the only biggie not in the field of 128 for the 90-hole Bob Hope at Palm Springs is 1978 Player of the Year Tom Watson. So Jack Nicklaus, deciding "it might be fun to come back" to an event he hasn't played in some time, is on hand for his only appearance until the tour moves east to Florida at the end of February... Or make that two biggies not present: 6-foot-6 George Archer, winner of 12 tour events but not many lately, is recuperating from October removal of two disks to correct a chronic back problem; hopes to play by the end of April... On the local golf front, a last tribute to Clarence Washington Jones, dead at 86 after 50 years (1918-68) running the men's locker room at Arlington's Washington Golf and Country Club. He came to Washington the same year as Bucky Harris and was a great baseball fan, and a friend of presidents, senators and other duffers.