Baseball and Bugel
Greetings From The Booth!
Welcome to July! Today is the day that MLB teams are to report to so-called “Summer Camps,” as the teams prepare for the virus-shortened 2020 season. Let me just say, I’ll believe there’s baseball when I see baseball. With a surge in coronavirus cases in several hotspots this week, and a handful of players opting out of the season for safety reasons, I’m still not confident that we’re going to have Major League Baseball.
2 of the players that decided to sit out the season this week were Washington Nationals. Pitcher Joe Ross and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman will miss the season due to safety concerns. In the case of “Zim,” the Nats’ very first draft choice back in 2005, it was a case of him not wanting to put his family at risk. It’s easy to get mad, but these are personal choices, and with more players and staff testing positive every day, it’s an uncertain time for athletes who are playing roulette with Covid-19. I don’t think we’ve seen the end to the number of players who will sit out the season, if there is one.
Finally, for Washington Redskins fans who were around in the Joe Gibbs glory days, there was sad news this week, with the passing of Joe Bugel, the architect of the famed ‘Skins offensive line known as The Hogs.
Bugel, who spent 32 years in the NFL, is best known in DC for his years coaching the group that paved the way for John Riggins and a host of other Redskins running backs, and was an integral part of Washington’s 3 Super Bowl appearances between 1981 and 1989. A few of the original Hogs were still around for another Super Bowl win in 1991.
The story goes that in 1982 during training camp, Bugel told his linemen to “get running, you hogs,” and the rest is history. The group, made up of Mark May, Jeff Bostic, Russ Grimm, George Starke,
Joe Jacoby, Rick “Doc” Walker, Fred Dean, and Don Warren, embraced the name and made the Hogs an exclusive team within the team. Riggins was made an honorary Hog, and Joe Theismann reluctantly was made a “piglet” after throwing a block in a game.
The Hogs became a nationally known group, spawned merchandise like t-shirts and pig-noses, and inspired a group of male fans to wear dresses at games and become “Hogettes.” The Hogs were truly larger than life, as by today’s standards they were small, averaging 273 pounds.
The ultimate tribute to Bugel and his Hogs might be Super Bowl XXII, when the Redskins played the Denver Broncos. “One-hit wonder” Tim Smith got the nod as Washington’s running back that day, and although Doug Williams grabbed the headlines, Smith ran through gaping holes for over 200 yards in the ‘Skins 42-10 drubbing of the Broncos. It was Smith’s one shining moment in the NFL, due to the dominance of The Hogs on that day.
Bugel would leave the Redskins to for a head coaching job in 1990, but in 2004, one of the first calls Joe Gibbs made when he returned to coach the team for a second time was to Joe Bugel. Although the pair of “Joes” would not recapture the magic of 1981-92 era, it was fitting that Bugel ended his coaching career with Washington in 2009.
RIP, Head Hog.
That’s it from The Booth. Until next time, HAIL SKINS, and GO HORNETS!