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.
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.
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.
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.
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.