Latest Issue

Underdogs Residing in Penn’s Woods

If you love the upset and rooting for the underdog what an incredible three week stretch. It began with our own Penn State Nittany Lions and ended with the most unbelievable election night in American history. In between was a World Series that was already an odds breaker. Anytime you can say Cleveland Indians versus Chicago Cubs the underdogs have already won no matter who wins.

Let’s begin a quick look back right up the road in Happy Valley, where there had not been much to be happy about before the Ohio State Buckeyes came calling to Beaver Stadium. PSU Head coach James Franklin’s job appeared to be blowing in the early autumn wind. A loss to Pitt and a debacle at Ann Arbor where Michigan destroyed the Nits, this had almost everyone in Blue and White questioning if Mr. Franklin was the right move to follow up Coach Mike O’Brien. The current Houston Texans’ head coach did a great job keeping the football program afloat following Joe Pa’s departure over the Sandusky scandal. Lost scholarships were the least of his worries as he guided the team through the aftermath of and dealing with the most difficult time in University history.

Penn State was a more than 21-point underdog for that Saturday night primetime game versus coach Urban Meyers’ Buckeyes. Many, including me, didn’t think it would be that close. After the 49-7 loss to Michigan, most hoped the Blue and White kept it close and didn’t get embarrassed.

Well that is why they play the game my friends and until the ‘fat lady sings’ has never rang out more true. It was a raucous ‘White Out’ crowd that was silenced by Ohio State until late in the fourth quarter. Losing 21-7, some great special teams effort, tough gritty play – like Lion teams of yesterday, a coaching mistake by OSU’s Urban Meyer, and yes some divine intervention turned Beaver Stadium into the loudest and happiest place on earth.

We will never know for sure if this saved Coach Franklin’s job, but it definitely completely flipped the play and season for Penn State football. Since then it has been the most remarkable transformation in a program I have ever witnessed. The offense is fun to watch and piling up points, the defense is electric and stingy like teams we all grew so spoiled watching.

When Penn State ran out on the field playing at Purdue the following week everyone was expecting a little let down at best. Joe Paterno’s teams were known for that following a big win, they go play whoever into a close ball game. It didn’t happen. They just kept on getting better and haven’t looked back.

As Hunter and I watched Penn State’s effort on a big screen at Chickie and Pete’s in Philly, a feeling came over me I haven’t felt in years. Those all white road uniforms with no name on the back, the black cleats. The every play effort and quiet confidence being exhibited on the field. That ‘Penn State Pride’ my Father and I shared for so many seasons years ago. It felt like putting on that perfect pair of old blue jeans you have misplaced for a while and remembering why you love wearing them on Saturdays.

Next up, the Cubbies. What an amazing World Series for the record book. Seven games pitting one team fighting the ‘Curse of the Goat’ and the other battling calling Cleveland their home.  No offense, but to call Cleveland home in sports has been its own curse. LeBron James recently took his hometown team to an NBA crown and ended years of misery for the city.

There is so much to recap about the Cubs run to the title and game seven I would need to write a book. I think GM Theo Epstein, manager Joe Madden and again, divine intervention, are the key factors. Sure, the Cubs have great players, but they’ve had a lot of great players and teams since 1908 and that never got rid of that goat from the past.

It was GM Epstein that orchestrated the Red Sox world championship that broke the greatest curse in sports history, that of Babe Ruth – ‘The Curse of the Bambino.’ Who can forget them winning back from the brink of elimination against the Yankees and Babe Ruth’s ghost?

Joe Madden is a Pennsylvania native who still has a home in Hazelton. He was the right man at the right time for Cubs fans all over the world. Even though he may have made a decision in game seven that could have been catastrophic, it wasn’t. He always seems to push the right button and make the right decision and when he didn’t, he got away with it. Call it managerial destiny.

Sometimes a good rain delay changes baseball fortune. I really believe this occurred in the final game. After an eighth inning, two run homer tied up the game for the Indians and had every Cub’s fan thinking: ‘here we go again,’ the skies opened up. The break in the action seemed to allow the Cubs to regroup and they came back out with a Dexter Fowler home run and added another insurance run in the 10th. The insurance run was also the winning run; would you expect it any other way for a team that waited 108 years for a World Series crown?

I only wish long time Cubs fan and Bud man, announcer Harry Caray’s call of, “And the Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win!” would have been heard as the final out was recorded. Although I’m sure that’s what all Cub fans around the world did hear.

That brings us to the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. The movement President-elect Trump created in our Country has never been witnessed. A near record voter turnout, making people caring and passionate about America and taking on the two party monster that is leading us down the Primrose Path are the signatures of Trump’s – Make America Great campaign.

He had to defeat the Republican Party to earn the nomination, the Democratic Party to win the presidency and yes, the media handicapping the race as he was the sure loser according to almost all and I mean that literally.

As I watched the whole thing unfold on Election Night it gave me great pride that, again, Pennsylvania was significant. It was our vote and those 20 electoral votes that sealed the deal for Mr. Trump. Like Penn State defeating Ohio State, I would have never guessed Mr. Trump would beat Ms. Hillary in the Keystone State. Incidentally he also won Ohio.

What an unbelievable statement made by ‘We the People’ that our system does work, that our freedom is absolute and that our elected officials are just that.

The power of prayer can change the world; our privilege to vote can change government. Now it is up to you and I to unite as one and support our next president. The Republicans and Democrats serving us must come together to solve the problems of today and guarantee the future for our children. If not we need to change them. Together we must hold them accountable.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *