Joe the coach sat way up in the press box and watched his Penn State Nittany Lions roar back and destroy Michigan. Joe the Coach is almost 82, and he sits up in the box because his leg hurts too much to stand on the sideline. Both legs hurt, actually. He can't always tell which one hurts more. Also his hip. People keep telling Joe Paterno to retire, step down, he's had his day.
But you know what? Joe the Coach will decide what day it is.
Joe the Coach has the No. 3 -- ranked college football team in America.
Joe the Manager asked David Price, his raw 23-year-old pitcher, to finish off Boston in the final game of the ALCS. No pitcher that young had ever closed out a Game 7. If Price had failed, then Joe Maddon would have been interrogated about it for the rest of his life.
But you know what? Joe the Manager ain't worried about second-guessers.
Price got the outs, and Joe the Manager is taking the Tampa Bay Rays to the World Series.
See, you cannot count out us Joes. That's what John McCain was saying, I think, when he turned away from Barack Obama during the final presidential debate and spoke directly to Joe the Plumber of Toledo. So maybe the man's first name was technically Sam, and he wasn't a licensed plumber. So what? The point is that from Joe Biden in Delaware to Joe Torre in L.A., we are a nation of Joes.
Joe crosses every demographic. We are rich, Joe Millionaire, Joe Buck, but we are also so poor that some of us go shoeless. We are Joe College. But we also learn the hard way, through real life experience, Joe Dirt, Joe Rockhead, Joe Bagadonuts and, of course, Joe Sixpack.
We are Joe Cool, Super Joe, Broadway Joe, Mighty Joe Young. We are also Joe Schmo and Ugly Kid Joe. We are Joe Palookas, and you might knock us down. But beware. People have asked where we were going with that gun in our hand.
When duty has called, we proudly served as G.I.'s (and we had Kung Fu grips). When it was quarter to three and there was no one in the place except you and me, we set 'em up and listened to sad stories and poured one more for the road. We have run America's diners -- Eat at Joe's -- and we have filled America's coffee cups, and we hit in 56 straight games. We have taken on volcanoes and violence against women and the heavily favored Baltimore Colts and the best boxer Nazi Germany had to offer.
We are Joe Sakic, 39 but still with the great wrist shot, still hockey captain of the Avalanche. We are Joe Flacco, Baltimore's rookie quarterback, Delaware Fightin' Blue Hen, who looked like a real pro for the first time last week at Miami.
We are Paterno and Maddon, regular Joes who look at the world through thick glasses and a Pennsylvania prism. Paterno has been head coach at Penn State for 43 years now, and for the last eight or nine he's had to hear all about being washed-up. This week his undefeated Lions play at Ohio State. Vindicated? "I don't know what there is to vindicate," Joe the Coach says.
Maddon meanwhile bounced around with the Angels for 31 years before getting his shot to be the boss. Few thought the Rays could win when he was hired. They never had before. Joe figured hard work could do the trick. Joe's mother, Beanie, still waits on customers at the Third Base Luncheonette in Hazleton, Pa. "We're working people," Joe the Manager says.
Yes, we are. Once again, a nation turns its lonely eyes to us Everyday and Average Joes. Look around. We're right here.