Saturday, June 28, 2008

Happy Birthday to You

Today is my little brother Lee's birthday. It's not that I forgot about this momentous day so much as it just completely snuck up on me. But I figure a celebratory post on his big sister's hockey blog is way better than any ol' material present. Am I right or am I right?

I was two and a half when Lee was born and while I wasn't too sure about the little guy at first - seriously, don't I looked completely stunned in that first photo? - I got attached to him pretty quickly. I love all three of my brothers - and more importantly, I really like them and would willingly hang out with all of them - but John and Chris are both much older than me (eleven and ten years respectively) so Lee was the one who I really grew up with.

"What the - ? That thing's staying here, right?"

There are a lot of things I could say about Lee but for the purposes of this blog, we'll focus on the fact that he's the other sports fan in the family. John is pretty much the least athletic person you'll ever meet and while as an Auburn graduate (times three) he does watch college football, he has no interest in anything else. Chris always has kind of a vague idea what's going on in the world of sports, but he doesn't really watch or follow any specific teams. But Lee is in and in deep.

Heather: The Mets suck.
Lee: Say that again and I'll sock you in the nose.

Lee was, like me, always a bit of a sports rebel. We grew up in Birmingham so college football was king. For those of you who have never lived in the southeast, I really can't put into words how much that area lives and breathes college football. Take the importance of the Bills and Sabres to WNY and double or triple it. Take the passion and intensity of the Bills-Dolphins/Sabres-Leafs rivalries and maybe you're approaching the neighborhood of how seriously people take the Auburn/Alabama rivalry. I rebelled by not really caring that much - I half-heartedly rooted for Auburn since John was there for most of my childhood and sold most of my student game tickets while I was at Alabama - but Lee rebelled by cheering for the University of Florida. This is somewhat akin to deciding to cheer for the Rangers or the Flyers when you have no real reason to. It's obnoxious. It's hilarious.

Lee also rebelled in baseball. He was exactly the right age to pick up on the rejuvenation of the Braves franchise (for anyone who has forgotten, the Braves were wretched in the 80's - "playing games in front of crowds of 12, no one will acknowledge the team even exists" bad) but that was the obvious thing to do so of course he became a Mets fan instead. I think originally he was a Mike Piazza fan (explaining the Dodgers t-shirt in the photo below) but even after Piazza moved on from NY, Lee stuck with them and continues to inundate me with me emails about the team and how they're performing. I don't actually watch the Mets very often but that doesn't stop me from reminding him that I could watch them all the time if I wanted to.

Let's go Bucs! (Nice glasses, Lee.)

If you put together all the time Lee has spent watching hockey you might get an entire 60 minute game but we really should cut the kid some slack. He lives in Birmingham. The closest franchise is the Atlanta Thrashers. Would you watch hockey if they - and the rest of the Souteast division - were your best option? Having barely seen any real hockey has not stopped Lee from choosing a favorite team and player however. He roots for the San Jose Sharks and loves Joe Thornton. Why? I have no idea. But it has led to some pretty hilarious emails along the lines of "Sharks are gonna kick butt! (Do they have any chance in this series?)" and "I hear the Sharks are getting Brian Campbell! Woo-hoo! (Is he any good?)" I fully believe that if Lee were ever in an area where he could watch hockey regularly, he'd love it and really isn't that what matters? I even think that despite his instinct to go a different way than everyone else, Lee would probably like the current Sabres team. I'm not entirely sure but I think his favorite player would be Derek Roy.

At my wedding rehearsal, October 1999.

There are a lot of stories I could tell you about Lee to get across how he's the sweet-tempered, easy-going one in the family but I'll just tell you this. Despite the fact that he doesn't really watch hockey at all, he regularly reads and comments on his big sister's hockey blog. That's pretty swell.

Happy birthday, bub. I miss you and look forward to seeing you in a few weeks.

Seriously, how adorable are we?


Jennifer said...

Aw, that is seriously the best birthday gift anyone could give, makes me want to cry. He is lucky to have a sister like you. I really wish that I had a sibling that I could share with like this.

Happy Birthday, Lee!

Pookie said...

Happy Birthday, Lee!

Hope the Mets do well for you this year!

Myra said...

Oh my gosh! Heather, ya'll were absolutely adorable. Having grown up in Texas, I completely understand the football obsession. And the rebeling thing, which is one of the reasons why I love hockey. :)

What a great post! Happy Birthday, Lee!

Anonymous said...

Very Nice Story About You And Your Brother!

However Your Downgrading And Bashing Of The SE Division & The Thrashers Really Ruined The Story.

Hockey Is Hockey No Matter Where It Is Played. The Hockey Up North Is No Different Than The Hockey In The South.

Sad That You Display Such Un-Classy Stereo-Typical Northern Mentality.

Those Of Us In The South Do Not Talk Down On Any Division Or The Bad Luck Of A Team.

Come On Down South, We Welcome All With The Love Of Hockey With Open Arms No Matter Where They Are From.

TheTick said...

Way to hide behind 'anonymous', jerk. And All Caps Don't Make What You Say Seem More Important!

Great post Heather. :)

Heather B. said...


First of all, have no fear about leaving a name with any comments in the future. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me as long as it's done respectfully.

Second of all, hockey is different in the south, particularly in Birmingham and I say that as someone who spent the first 22 years of my life there. The sport itself remains the same but the atmosphere and the pervasiveness of the sport into the community are very, very different with a couple of exceptions and for me that does change how you watch the game.

I have no problem with hockey in non-traditional markets - I rooted for the Ducks in last year's Cup Finals (loathe as I am to admit it now) and I think the Stars are one of the best organizations in the league and a wonderful example of how grassroots hockey can take root in states that aren't really thought of as hockey territory. But I do stick to my opinion that the quality of hockey in the SE Division is not at the same level as some of the other divisions. There are certainly some great talents in the SE - I don't think any real fan can not appreciate guys like Lecavalier and Kovalchuk - but I think they're saddled with pretty poor teams. You are free, of course, to disagree. It was a throwaway line that was really intended as a joke anyway. Sorry that didn't come through more clearly.

Jennifer said...

As a "southerner" myself, I must agree with Heather. I live 1 hour from a SE Division team's hometown and have only found a couple of people who have a slight interest in the sport, none that are real FANS of hockey. Whether it is the smaller market or lack of fan base, there is a definite difference.

Mark B said...

Happy Birthday to my Brother-In-Law, Lee! I second what Heather said - he's one cool dude.

And as a person who lived in the South for a few years after growing up in Buffalo, i have to say that there's a big difference in how the sport is covered. Just pick up a newspaper in Birmingham or Atlanta and compare the hockey coverage to The Buffalo News. As much as I rip TBN, they do reflect the importance of the sport to us in their coverage. Hockey will always take a back seat to College sports and Nascar down in the South.

Lee Andrew said...

Awww, how nice. Thanks for the post sis. That was the best thing I received today! And thanks for the happy wishes everybody.

For the record. I was a Mets fan first because of Darryl Strawberry. Strawberry then went to the Dodgers and as he declined Piazza became my favorite player, then I followed Piazza to the Mets. And unfortunately the Mets are NOT doing well for me this year.

Honestly the only reason I picked the Sharks as my favorite team is because when they were an expansion team I bought a hat of theirs because I liked the colors and logo. I also thought Sharks was a great name. Sharks are cool and vicious. Why did it take so long for a major sports team to think of Sharks? One of these days I'll live in a city where I can watch more hockey and I may adopt a new team then when I actually know the teams and players.

Sorry anonymous but "Hockey is hockey no matter where it is played" is not a good argument. If that is your argument then college football in Buffalo is as good as college football in Alabama and I'm pretty sure anybody in either place will tell you that's not the case.

The Braves have some of the most fair weather fans in all of sports, the Hawks are one of the worst franchises in the NBA and Falcons just had their only star thrown in jail and all three teams are still more relevant than the Atlanta Thrashers. They're not interesting, they're not good, they're not exciting and nobody cares about them. Maybe that will change with time but every time I tried to watch them this year I was bored to tears.

S.A.M. said...

cute post, Heather! Happy Birthday Lee!

Patty (in Dallas) said...

What adorable kids you two are! Such a sweet post. Happy Birthday, Lee!

Lee Andrew said...

I forgot to mention that i'm excited the San Jose Sharks got a new coach! (Is he any good?)

S.A.M. said...

ah and those shirts are wicked awesome! ;)

Bobcat said...

Well, given how long I've been reading this blog, I figured I should finally comment, and this sweet post seemed like a good place to start. I've had basically the opposite move of Heather's, being from Buffalo and moving down South (Baton Rouge), and I have to say that yes, there is a huge difference in hockey fans down here. Mostly because it's relatively rare for people down here to be hockey fans. South Louisiana actually did have a decent hockey following until the Hornets moved to New Orleans and killed off the minor league hockey teams in the process, but still, it has nothing against the 8000-lb. gorilla of football. I grew up with die hard Bills fans, but nothing really prepares you for the intensity of the football fandom here. The fact that being a hockey fan here makes you an outsider means hockey's got a total lack of casual fans here, which causes some of the problems Southern franchises have. There really aren't the fans who will come to a couple games a season who fill out the stadium when you've drained the hard core fanbase.

Heather B. said...

Hi, Bobcat, thanks for the comment! Glad you're joining us :-D

I imagine in Baton Rouge - and I said that in my best Cajun accent, btw - you have kind of the same problem as Birmingham: You're far enough away from all the NHL franchises that you don't really get much in the way of coverage unless you have a dish or special sports package.

But yeah, LSU. You're right in the thick of SEC football. (God bless you :-D)

I forgot to mention that i'm excited the San Jose Sharks got a new coach! (Is he any good?)

Ha! And I have no idea.