Kyle Seager Game-Tying Grand Slam In Extra Innings

As a sportscaster, I’ve witnessed some really cool moments in my life. I was sitting courtside when Gonzaga’s Demetri Goodson hit a game-winning buzzer-beater against Western Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament. I was in the bleacher seats at old Yankee Stadium when Alex Rodriguez hit a walk-off grand slam against the Orioles. And now, I can add another memorable moment to the list — Kyle Seager hitting a historic game-tying grand slam in the 14th inning against the White Sox.

I was torn. Do I want to go to the game or not? I was thinking about it all morning. The Seattle Mariners were set to face the Chicago White Sox at Safeco Field at 12:40pm. If I don’t go — I can get a ton of stuff done on my day off. If I do go — I get to enjoy a beautiful day at the ballpark. When I write it out, the decision is obvious, but it was tough to pull the trigger one way or the other yesterday. After much deliberation, I decided to head toward the ballpark.

Kyle Seager Grand Slam

My view from behind the plate early in yesterday’s game

I originally sat behind the plate in the sunshine, and downed a couple of hot dogs and a beer. The sun turned to shade in my section, so I moved to a sunny spot in the outfield. There weren’t many people at Safeco Field yesterday, so seating was pretty wide open. The 9th inning came and went, and the Mariners and White Sox were still scoreless. Fans started flocking out of the stadium. They’d either seen enough, or they needed to get back to work/school. Either way, the place started to clear out.

The sun vanished from my section in the outfield, so I moved to Edgar’s Cantina. The mass exodus after the 9th inning left plenty of room in the first-come-first-served standing area, and it was one of the few places the sun was still shining on. The 10th inning came and went without any scoring, and then the 11th, 12th and 13th innings passed without much action. At this point, there were only a few thousand fans remaining at Safeco Field, but the best was yet to come.

In the top of the 14th inning, the White Sox rallied for five runs. That’s right — five runs. No one could even score through 13 innings, but Chicago managed to rally for five runs in the 14th alone. The Seattle faithful who sat through 13-and-a-half innings of baseball had seen enough. More than half the remaining crowd walked toward the exits. It left all of maybe  2,000 people in the seats (and that number might be generous). I could have left too, but 1) I never ever leave a game early and 2) I had a feeling we were going to see something special in the bottom half of the inning.

Nick Franklin flew out to start the 14th inning for Seattle, but then the Mariners rattled off three consecutive singles to load the bases. Endy Chavez added another single to bring in Seattle’s first run, making the game 5-1. The next batter was Jason Bay. There were honestly no more than eight people standing in Edgar’s Cantina at this point in the game. The guy standing to my left turned to me and said, “If Bay hits a grand slam, we’re celebrating.” He hadn’t said one word to me the whole time we were standing there, but I agreed to a huge celebration. Well, Bay struck out to give the Mariners two outs, leaving Kyle Seager as Seattle’s only hope.

After falling behind in the count 0-2, Seager took a ball on the third pitch. I remember staring at Seager in the box and thinking to myself, “Let’s see something special, Kyle.” Addison Reed fed Seager a low slider, and Seager reached down and drove the ball toward right centerfield. The guy next to me immediately started celebrating, but I wasn’t convinced it was gone. I saw the outfielders stop giving chase, and the ball landed about three rows back in the seats. The game was suddenly tied at 5. Click here to watch the game-tying grand slam.

I couldn’t believe what I just saw. I turned to the guy next to me and he leaped into my arms. It felt like everyone in the Edgar’s Cantina converged on the same place. I was giving fives to people I had never even seen before. There were two older women standing behind me. They were screaming and hugging, looking at me with disbelief in their eyes. I honestly don’t remember yelling, but once everything settled down I realized my throat was sore. My heart was thumping through my chest, and I’m pretty sure I kept saying “holy [cow]” over and over again. It was one of the most unbelievable turn of events I’ve ever seen in a baseball game, and it will likely stay that way forever.

According to Elias Sports, Seager’s slam was the first game-tying grand slam in extra innings in Major League Baseball history. No team had ever rallied from five or more runs down to tie a game in the 14th inning or later, but the Mariners achieved the feat yesterday. The odds of that moment happening exactly the way it did is probably comparable to the odds of winning the lottery. It was incredible, and it was only witnessed by a handful of people who stayed long enough to see it happen.

Kyle Seager Grand Slam

The crowd at Safeco Field in the 16th inning

Kendrys Morales eventually flew out to end the 14th inning, both teams went scoreless in the 15th, and then the White Sox plated a pair in the top of the 16th inning. This time around, the Mariners couldn’t answer. 5 hours and 42 minutes after the game started at Safeco Field (the longest home game in Seattle Mariners history), Jason Bay struck out to cap a 7-5 Mariners loss.

Did I want to see the Mariners win? Sure. Did I witness a piece of baseball history? Definitely. The guy who jumped into my arms after Kyle Seager’s grand slam — I’ll probably never see him again. In fact, I never even got his name. But, I’ll never forget him for the rest of my life. For a few moments yesterday, we shared one of those unique sports moments. We witnessed the unthinkable, and we absolutely lost our minds in the process. Where was I when Kyle Seager hit the game-tying grand slam in extra innings? I was standing in Edgar’s Cantina experiencing an unforgettable moment. Let’s put it this way — I’m thankful I decided to go to the game.

Were you one of the fortunate few who saw Kyle Seager’s grand slam in person? Did you watch it live on television? I’d love to hear where you were and what your reaction was like. You can leave a comment below or connect with me on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Don’t forget to also check out All Around Tim for more great Seattle sports coverage!

 

Nickname For Seattle Seahawks Linebackers

There are nicknames all over the Seattle Seahawks roster. Running back Marshawn Lynch is known as “Beast Mode,” quarterback Russell Wilson is nicknamed “Dangeruss” Wilson (thanks to his @DangeRussWilson twitter handle), and the Seahawks secondary goes by the “Legion of Boom.”

The Seahawks linebackers don’t have a nickname, and they don’t want to be left out anymore. During my interview with K.J. Wright yesterday, he said the linebacking corps is now searching for a moniker.

Nickname Seahawks Linebackers

Seahawks linebackers Bruce Irvin and Mike Morgan run through drills at yesterday’s OTA

“We have to come up with our own nickname,” Wright told me. “We were talking about that. We have to get our own little creed going. So, we’re going to have something for the upcoming season.”

I asked K.J. if they’ve come up with any ideas yet, but he said it was going to be a surprise. That means either: 1) these guys put some serious thought into it, and they’ve come up with something awesome, or 2) they talked about getting a nickname, they tossed around a couple of ideas and now it’s sitting on the back burner. I’m honestly leaning more toward #2 myself.

To help find a nickname for the Seattle Seahawks linebackers, I took to Twitter after practice. I asked the “12th Man” (another nickname associated with this football team) if they had any suggestions for K.J. and the linebacking corps. To no surprise, the ideas started rolling in. Name after name popped up on my account. Here are a few of the nicknames I heard:

The “Sound Barrier,” the “Black and Blue Crew,” “The Sultans of Stuff,” the “The SeaWall,” “Pike Posse” or the “Century Club,” the “Department of Defense,” “Stop, Drop & Blitz,” the “Legion of Doom” and the “Legion of Vroom,” “The Hurt Lockers” or the “Shifty Assassins,” the “Backbreakers” and many, many more.

I shared a few of the nicknames for the Seahawks linebackers on my sportscast last night, and that brought even more names to the mix through email and Twitter. The outpouring of suggestions quickly made me realize the Seattle fans are determined to give the linebackers a nickname.

So, I’m extending the search…

I’d love to hear any suggestions that you have! You can simply leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. I’d love to hear your nickname for the Seahawks linebackers! If there’s a nickname you love that’s already been mentioned, let me know which one it is so I can add a tally next to it.

After I receive all of your suggestions, I’m taking the top nicknames directly back to K.J. Wright himself. I’ll do a follow-up story with him (depending on his availability) about what he thinks of your ideas. We’ll run that story on KOMO 4 News, but I’ll also share his thoughts right here on All Around Tim. Hopefully, by the September 8th opener against Carolina — we’ll have a nickname squared away for these guys!

Let’s hear your nicknames!

“Legion of Boom” | The Seattle Seahawks Secondary

The Seattle Seahawks had the sixth best pass defense in the NFL last year, allowing a little more than 200 yards per game. A big reason for that success was the Seahawks secondary — better known as the “Legion of Boom.”

Legion of Boom

Legion of Boom

Safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, and cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman make up the “Legion of Boom,” and thanks to their rough and tough style, they’re considered one of the most intimidating defensive backfields in the NFL.

“It’s a mindset and the way guys play,” Sherman told me. “We play hard and try to bring some physicality to the game. The name kind of sticks with that, so it’s one and the same.”

Not only does the “Legion of Boom” set the tone with their big hits, they also make things happen with their big play ability. Browner, Chancellor, Sherman and Thomas combined for 275 tackles, 14 interceptions and 5 fumble recoveries last season. Thomas and Sherman also chipped in touchdowns for Seattle.

Here’s the good news for Seahawks fans: all four players are back in Seattle this season, and they could be around for years to come. At 28-years-old, Browner is the oldest of the bunch. The   average age of the “Legion of Boom” is just 25.5-years-old right now.

“We all want to bring that boom to the secondary,” Chancellor said to me. “We all want to be the first one to make a big play. We’re all very competitive and want to be difference makers back there. It’s instilled in our mentality, so it brings out the best in all of us.”

Cornerback Antoine Winfield is a 15-year NFL veteran, so he’s played with and against some of the best players in the league. He signed with the Seahawks over the offseason, so he’s only had two official practices with the team, but he’s already a “Legion of Boom” believer.

“I’ve played football for a long time, and they’re really talented across the board,” said Winfield. “The corners and both safeties — they’re by far the number one secondary in the league. The way they work, I see why they’re number one.”

Expectations are high for the Seattle Seahawks this season. In fact, they’re one of the early favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII, and the “Legion of Boom” is a major reason for much of that hype. If the secondary can live up to its potential (which they have in the past), the Seahawks just might be playing in New Jersey on February 2, 2014.

What do you think of the “Legion of Boom?” Are they as good as advertised? I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more on the world of sports, music and travel.

Legion of Boom

Legion of Boom at CenturyLink Field

Seahawks Open OTAs With High Expectations

The Seahawks spent the offseason building their squad through free agency and the draft. They made every move thinking about how the group would look as a team. They finally got to see all their players together on the field for the first time as OTAs (organized team activities) kicked off today.

Seahawks OTA

The Seahawks open OTAs at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center

“It’s exciting to see these guys,” said head coach Pete Carroll. “They were excited to get out here. They’ve worked very hard to get to this point. It was a very, very good first day for us.”

It’s only one official practice, and it’s a little more than three months until the start of the regular season, but expectations are already high for the Seahawks. They’re currently pegged as one of the favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII.

“Everyone’s going to be talking about how good we’re supposed to be, Super Bowl, all that kind of stuff,” said quarterback Russell Wilson. “You can’t pay attention to that. I think the biggest thing is just focus on the now, focus on the moment. We had a great practice today and let’s see if we can be that much better tomorrow.”

The Seahawks obviously aim to mute the outside world, but internally they’re not afraid to admit they have plenty of potential.

Seahawks OTA

The Seahawks offensive linemen working hard at practice

“We know we can be really good, but it’s up to us how good we are,” said wide receiver Golden Tate. “If you watch practice, we’re out here working. Guys are out here running around, making plays on offense and defense. Coaches are working hard. We’re just trying to do everything necessary to be a champion.”

Seattle targeted a championship last year, but they were stopped short in the divisional playoffs against the Atlanta Falcons. After adding guys like defensive end Cliff Avril and wide receiver Percy Harvin to a solid group from last season, it’s obvious why the Seahawks are the talk of the NFL.

“Coach said we have a lot of hype, but he also told us to make it natural,” Harvin said. “We don’t come out here saying we hope to lose, so with a good team comes a lot of talk, but we put all that behind us. We’re out here having fun, we’re competing and that’s how it’s going to be.”

Pete Carroll Seahawks

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll

Not everyone was in Renton for the Seahawks first OTA. Running back Marshawn Lynch was a no-show. These are voluntary workouts, but head coach Pete Carroll said after practice that he would love to have everyone in attendance.

Seattle returns to the field for their second OTA Tuesday, May 28th.

Do you think it’s too early for the Seahawks to be a considered a Super Bowl favorite? Is all the hype justified? I’d love to hear what you think! Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more on the world of sports, music and more!

Seattle Seahawks

Doug Baldwin makes a catch during the Seahawks first OTA

Reese McGuire Ready For MLB Draft

Before Reese McGuire can think too much about the MLB Draft, he wants to lead Kentwood High School to another state championship. The highly touted catcher helped the Conquerors win the 4A (Washington’s largest classification) title last year, and another trophy would cap an unforgettable senior season.

Reese McGuire | MLB Draft

Reese McGuire (center) with Kentwood teammates

“The season is great,” McGuire told me. “We got first in league, so it was awesome. Our pitching stepped up and everyone has done their part to make the team better.”

Even though he’s focused on “the now,” McGuire isn’t afraid to look ahead to the MLB Draft in a few weeks.

“This next month is going to be pretty sweet,” he said.

There’s plenty of reason for excitement. McGuire, listed at 6’1″ and 195 pounds, is considered one of the best high school players in the country. He was named a preseason All-American and was also tabbed the USA Baseball Player of the Year after hitting .400 with 4 doubles and 11 runs batted in for Team USA at the IBAF 18U World Championship in September.

“This game is everything I’ve known,” said McGuire. “This was my favorite sport as a kid. I was playing basketball and football, but just always had that extra love and passion for this game. I’m truly blessed to come out to the field every day. I don’t take it for granted.”

Reese McGuire | MLB Draft

Reese McGuire taking batting practice in the cage

Baseball America ranked McGuire as the fourth best draft-eligible high school prospect (and the top prep catcher) in the nation before the season started. Some experts have him going early in the first round (as high as 6th overall to the Miami Marlins), while others have McGuire pegged late in the first round. One thing is in common — he’ll be snatched up quickly.

“As a kid I was like, ‘Man, I want to be a professional baseball player,’ McGuire told me. “I never really thought it could come after high school. Just growing up and getting that exposure, it opened up my eyes to a different route.”

McGuire’s original plan was to go to college. That’s why he committed to the University of San Diego. The Teroros would love nothing more than for McGuire to head south next season, but now he has a tough decision to make. Will he play college or professional baseball?

“It’s a win-win situation either way,” McGuire said. “As of right now, I have an awesome school lined up, and that was the path. If something special happens during the draft, which I hope so, then it’s going to be my decision with my family and my advisor. We’re going to do what’s best.”

Reese McGuire | MLB Draft

Reese McGuire taking infield at Kentwood

Scouts rave about McGuire’s tools. He has speed, he can hit for average and power (he hit .417 with 3 home runs and 16 RBI in 24 games at Kentwood this year), but nothing tops McGuire’s skills behind the plate. His high school coach Mark Zender, who’s been coaching for 30 years, says McGuire is the most talented player he’s ever had, and he believes Reese is “major league ready defensively right now.”

“When I’m behind the dish, I feel like I’m at home,” said McGuire. “I just think I have good leadership back there. I’m the only guy facing the field, and I get a good bond with the pitcher. That reverts to offense and being a leader with the bat too.”

There’s no arguing the future is bright for Reese McGuire. A defensive-minded catcher who can swing the bat is one of the most coveted jewels in the game. McGuire is humble, he has a good head on his shoulders, and more than enough talent to have a long, successful career in professional baseball.

Have you ever watched Reese McGuire on the baseball field? What did you think of him? Where do you think he’ll go in the MLB Draft? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. You should also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more on the world of sports, music and more!

P.S. This is a story I put together on Reese McGuire for my television station. Take a look for more on the MLB Draft prospect:

What It’s Like To Play Chambers Bay Golf Course

I’ve said this once, and you’ll hear me say it again and again — I have the greatest job in the world. I cover sports for a living. I talk about them, I watch them and every now and then I get to play them — like yesterday. I was paid to play golf, and not just on a typical course. I was paid to play Chambers Bay Golf Course — home of the 2015 U.S. Open.

Chambers Bay Golf Course

Chambers Bay Golf Course

Chambers Bay Golf Course, which is located in University Place, Washington, is expensive (at least in my eyes). Greens fees cost anywhere from $119 (non-county resident sunset rate from June-September) to $219 (non-Washington resident rate from June-September). That means not everyone can afford play Chambers Bay. If you can’t make it out there, or even if you can (you’re planning a trip, etc.), I’m here to tell you what it’s like to play Chambers Bay Golf Course.

I had never even seen the Chambers Bay grounds before, so this was an entirely new experience for me. The clubhouse sits on top of a hill, so you have an opportunity to look out on the entire course when you first arrive. At first glance, I asked myself, “This is a golf course?!” Chambers Bay is designed (by Robert Trent Jones II) like a traditional Scottish links course. That means there are no trees (there’s actually one tree on the course, but it doesn’t come into play), it’s just a rolling mess of grass, dunes and sand. One of the guys I played with described it as “the surface of the moon.”

Chambers Bay Golf Course doesn’t just look different, it also plays different. Even though I’ve been to Scotland, I didn’t play golf there. That means Chambers Bay is unlike any course I’ve ever played before. There aren’t traditional golf hazards, like water and trees, but there is trouble everywhere at Chambers Bay. Precision is the name of the game there. A foot the wrong way and you’ll end up in the sand (or waste areas). A few inches too long and you’ll be in thick fescue. You need to be spot on with every shot or your round can quickly unravel.

Chambers Bay Golf Course

Looking up the No. 7 fairway toward the green

There’s another thing you need to know about Chambers Bay Golf Course — it’s long (7,165 yards from the blue tees), firm and fast. I was talking to a caddy before the round, and he told me that I need to take 10 to 15 yards off every shot because the ball rolls, and rolls, and rolls once it hits the ground. When the 2015 U.S. Open comes to town, they’re actually going to have a 520-yard, par-4 (no joke). An employee of the USGA explained to me that yardage at Chambers Bay doesn’t mean the same thing as other courses. That’s because Chambers Bay is so firm and so fast. The distance can also be deceiving when you’re out there playing at Chambers Bay. There’s nothing to obstruct your view, so it looks like every hole is 500-yards away.

NOTE: There are no golf carts allowed (unless you need one for health reasons, etc), so you have to walk Chambers Bay Golf Course. That doesn’t matter to me, because I’m young enough and healthy enough to trek 18 holes. With that said, Chambers Bay still isn’t an easy walk. The hazards are the hills and dunes, so you feel like you’re constantly walking up and down hills. They give you a push cart as part of your greens fees, and that definitely helps. But, just keep that in mind if you’re planning a trip to Chambers Bay. Your body needs to be golf ready.

Since you can’t always tell the difference between the fairway and the greens (again, this is a traditional links course), that means putting is a challenge at Chambers Bay as well. That firm and fast description doesn’t end on the fairways. It goes for the greens, too. And, the hills don’t stop rolling on the greens either. I think I lined up three straight putts my entire round yesterday. The greens sometimes feel as wavy as the Puget Sound you’re playing next to. One of the guys I was playing with said it was like “putting on a frozen lake.”

NOTE: If you’re looking for a pristine, green golf course, Chambers Bay is not for you. The grass dries out and turns pretty darn brown. If I didn’t know Chambers Bay was a championship level course, I would think it was a poorly maintained public golf course. But, that’s far from the truth. The crew at Chambers Bay puts in tons of work — that’s just the way the course is supposed to be.

Chambers Bay Golf Course

Chambers Bay Golf Course

While the course might not be much to look at, the views are top-notch at Chambers Bay Golf Course. Like I mentioned, you play alongside the beautiful Puget Sound. When you’re up on the course, it feels like you can see for miles. We were out there on a perfect day (80 degrees and sunny), so the weather wasn’t a factor. But, the wind off the sound can make Chambers Bay play much different than it did for us. Rain is always a possibility in the Puget Sound area as well.

When I was on the course (probably on hole No. 13), I mentioned to one of the guys I was playing with that I liked the front nine better than the back nine at Chambers Bay. He had played out there before, and he quickly said, “Just wait. The back nine gets even better.” It was so true. I jotted notes when I was playing out there, and I didn’t realize it at the time, but all four of the holes I listed as my favorites (No. 10, No. 15, No. 16 and No. 18 – I could probably throw No. 17 in there as well) were on the back nine. In other words, I didn’t think there were any bad holes on the course.

Danny Sink, the director of the 2015 U.S. Open, explained to me that the USGA wants to make the open “golf’s toughest test.” That doesn’t mean they want to penalize golfers for good shots, but they want to test them mentally and physically, and they want to challenge their shot-making skills. They picked Chambers Bay to do that, and I think that says a lot about the golf course. It’s meant to test the best golfers in the world, so it definitely cause problems for an average weekend hacker. I know first-hand how difficult the course is.

I hope this did a good job of summing up what it’s like to play at Chambers Bay. I could have written ten more paragraphs, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you with information. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have, or feel free to leave a comment below. You can always connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out All Around Tim for more on the world of sports, music and food!

Chambers Bay Golf Course

A view of Chambers Bay from the clubhouse area

Seattle Mariners Top Prospects Grow Together In Minors

Seattle Mariners fans have waited patiently for a specific crop of young, talented prospects to make it to the big leagues. It’s been a long process, and one that’s weighed on the players as well.

Seattle Mariners Top Prospects

Seattle Mariners top prospects in Tacoma

“We’re doing our best,” Mariners pitching prospect Danny Hultzen told me. “Hopefully, that call will come at some point. Obviously, it’s our goal to get there as soon as possible.”

Now, many of the top prospects M’s fans have been itching for are just one step away for the major leagues. They’re all currently playing for the AAA Tacoma Rainiers.

“You have that extra motivation knowing that you’re close” said catching prospect Mike Zunino. “You have to go out and handle your business day in and day out, and hopefully it’s sooner rather than later that you can make that jump and help the ball club up there win.”

I’m sure you know their names by now, but I’ll remind you anyway. There’s shortstop/second baseman Nick Franklin, starting pitcher James Paxton and the aforementioned Mike Zunino and Danny Hultzen.

“I love our team,” Franklin told me. “We bond well and we have great chemistry. We’ve played with each other coming up through the minor leagues. We’ve had a few additions, but we’ve been nothing but great. I enjoy it.”

Baseball America ranks the star-studded posse as four of the M’s top five prospects. Zunino is ranked No.1, followed by Hultzen (No. 3), Paxton (No. 4) and Franklin (No. 5). You’d think there might be big egos, but there’s not.

Seattle Mariners Top Prospects

Seattle Mariners top prospect Mike Zunino

“The best part of it to me is that everybody works together,” said Hultzen. “Nobody is trying to be too flashy. No one plays for themselves, which is always a good thing.”

Thanks to that teamwork, the long wait for reinforcements in Seattle is almost over. It’s not just exciting for the fans, it’s thrilling for the prospects as well.

“It’s really exciting to think we’re this close,” Paxton said to me. “It’s just one phone call and a short drive away and we’re there. So, we’re all getting ready and we’re real excited to help [the Mariners] at some point.”

For these four players it’s not a matter of “if” — it’s a matter of “when” they get called up to the big leagues. Until then, they’re honing their skills together in the minor leagues. We probably won’t be able to say that for long though. These prospects should all debut at Safeco Field sometime this season.

This is the story I put together for my television station on the Seattle Mariners top prospects. Click below to watch Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, James Paxton and Danny Hultzen in action.

What do you think of the Seattle Mariners top prospects? Are they the answer at the big league level? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Don’t forget to read more about the Mariners right now on All Around Tim!

Hockey Goalie Makes Behind-The-Back Save

If you’re a hockey fan, I’m sure you’ve heard someone say “a glove save and a beauty.” But, have you ever heard someone say “a behind-the-back save and a beauty?” I know it sounds crazy, but it recently happened. Thanks to YouTube you can watch the highlight over and over again. Check out the video below to see Drew MacIntyre pull off the most amazing (and probably the only) behind-the-back save you’ll ever see.

Drew MacIntyre is the goalie for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. The Marlies are the minor league affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. MacIntyre made this incredible behind-the-back save in a playoff game against the Rochester Americans on Saturday, and he probably couldn’t make the same stop again if he tried a thousand times.

With the game tied at three late in the second period, Johan Larsson fired a shot on goal. If it wasn’t for the quick reaction by Drew MacIntyre to fling his glove hand behind-his-back, Larsson would have easily made it a 4-3 game. Instead, MacIntyre (looking more like a magician than a hockey goalie) made the unbelievable save, and then guided the Toronto Marlies to a 6-3 win in game one of the series.

Behind-the-back Save

Drew MacIntyre

You’re probably wondering who in the world this Drew MacIntyre guy is. MacIntyre was a fourth round pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, but he’s spent most of his career in the minors. MacIntyre did have two brief stints in the National Hockey League with the Vancouver Canucks (2007-08) and the Buffalo Sabres (2011-12). The 29-year-old played a total of four games in the NHL and recorded a 2.29 goals against average. MacIntyre has played for three different teams (Prague Lev (KHL), Reading Royals (ECHL) and the Toronto Marlies) this season, but I guarantee this is the only behind-the-back save he’s made all year (or probably in his career).

Drew MacIntyre clearly hasn’t made a huge name for himself in the world of hockey (had you heard of him before this?), but people won’t forget him now. Being known as “the goalie who made the behind-the-back save” is better than not being remembered at all. I think MacIntyre’s stop is easily the save of the year, and I dare anyone to challenge me on that. Fire away!

What do you think of Drew MacIntyre’s behind-the-back save? Have you seen a better stop this season? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below (and link a video if you think there’s a better save this season) or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out All Around Tim for more on the world of sports, food and music!

Behind The Back Save

Drew MacIntyre makes an incredible behind-the-back save

Danny Hultzen | Mariners Prospect One Step Away

Seattle Mariners fans have heard the name Danny Hultzen for years, but they’ve never seen him in the big leagues. It’s all been hearsay and hype up to this point. That could all change soon for one of the organization’s top pitching prospects.

Danny Hultzen | Seattle Mariners

Danny Hultzen

Hultzen is among a talented crew playing for the AAA Tacoma Rainiers this season. He’s on the roster with catcher Mike Zunino, second baseman Nick Franklin and starting pitcher James Paxton. They’re ranked as four of the Mariners top five prospects by Baseball America.

“There’s a ton of talented guys, but the best part is that everybody works together,” Hultzen told me. “No one is trying to be flashy. No one plays for themselves, which is always a good thing.”

Not only is Hultzen a prized Mariners prospect (currently ranked No. 3 in the organization behind Zunino and pitcher Taijuan Walker), he’s also considered one of the top prospects in all of the minor leagues. Baseball America‘s Jim Callis ranked Hultzen as the No. 22 best prospect to start the 2013 season.

Hultzen is a former first round draft pick out of the University of Virginia. He was nabbed by the Seattle Mariners with the No. 2 overall selection in 2011. He skyrocketed through the system after signing an $8.5 million big league contract, which included a club-record $6.35 million bonus.

Hultzen started his professional career in the 2011 Arizona Fall League, and then pitched his first minor league game for AA Jackson last season. After recording eight wins and a 1.19 ERA in 13 starts for the Generals, Hultzen was promoted to AAA Tacoma — just one step away from the big leagues.

Danny Hultzen

Danny Hultzen pitching for the Tacoma Rainiers

“You can’t get ahead of yourself,” Hultzen said. “There were times I did that a little bit last year and it didn’t work well for me.”

Hultzen’s numbers spiraled out of control once he was promoted to AAA last June. He won only one game over his next 12 starts, and his ERA shot through the roof to 5.92. That was simply a result of allowing too many baserunners. Hultzen walked 43 batters (compared to 57 strike outs) over 48.2 innings with the Rainiers.

“You don’t make it to the big leagues by thinking about it,” said Hultzen. “You do it by taking care of business, and going out there and playing hard. That’s how I look at it now. I’m just trying to keep a level head and put [the Major Leagues] way back in my mind”

That appears to be working for Hultzen. The 23-year-old is on a roll to start the 2013 season. He’s 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA, and most importantly he’s regained his control. Hultzen has only walked six while striking out 25 in his first 22.2 innings with Tacoma this year.

Danny Hultzen

Danny Hultzen

“Everyone’s goal is to obviously make it to the Major Leagues,” Hultzen said to me. ”But, I’m a firm believer that if you’re helping the team win, then you’re personally going to perform the best you can. I think that’s the mentality we all have. We help the team win, and in doing so we can all hopefully move up.”

Hultzen has a deceptive delivery and the Mariners rave about his maturity (he was extremely polite to me — almost hinging on a little shy). Baseball America projects him as a No. 2 starter in the big leagues thanks to his 90-92 mph fastball (which touches 95 mph), “above-average” change-up and 80-84 mph slider.

The long wait to hear Danny Hultzen’s name announced at Safeco Field is almost over. If he can stay healthy (which has never been an issue with him), his Major League debut should happen at some point in 2013. I’m sure M’s fans are hoping it happens sooner rather than later.

Have you ever watched Danny Hultzen pitch? What do you think of the Seattle Mariners prospect? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for all the latest in the world of sports, food and music!

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Masters Golf Tournament Challenge

The Masters is easily one of the best sporting events on the planet. There’s Augusta National, the green jacket, amazing golfers past and present — everything about the tournament is amazing. I’ve paid attention to the Masters every year for as long as I can remember, and now thanks to a fantasy-style game my friend calls the Masters Golf Tournament Challenge, I can be more involved than ever before. The best part is — you can try this same idea with your friends, coworkers and family.

Here are the rules we use for the Masters Golf Tournament Challenge (with my bonus comments written in italics):

1)  Buy in is $20 per person and the limit is one entry per person.

You can make the buy in as much as you want. In fact, you can still play this for free (with only bragging rights on the line) and it will still be fun.

2)  Each participant picks ONE golfer. Once that golfer is selected, he is taken off the board.

In other words, no participants can have the same golfer playing in the tournament. Once Keegan Bradley is taken, no one else can choose him. It works like that for every golfer picked during the draft.

3) This is the fun twist — you can NOT pick a golfer in the World Golf Rankings top 10 at the time of the Masters.

I know this is easy to understand, but here’s an example anyway: this year’s Masters begins on Thursday, April 11th and the latest World Golf Rankings came out on Monday, April 8th (they’re released weekly). A golfer in the top 10 on the 8th can’t be selected for the Masters starting on the 11th.

4)  The participant whose golfer finishes the tournament highest on the leaderboard (with the lowest score) wins the entire pot.

You can change the payout to include more people if you want (maybe a 70%, 20, 10 for the top three participants), but I personally like the “all or nothing” part of our Masters Tournament Challenge.

5)  In the event of a tie, the participant whose player had the lower final round score wins all the money.

If you need an extra tiebreaker, you can go with the lower score in the third round or maybe even really single it down to the golfer who scored the best on No. 10 ”Camelia” (historically the toughest hole at Augusta National) in the final round. It’s totally up to you.

Those are the five rules we use for our Masters Golf Tournament Challenge. It’s really simple, and it’s easy for the person running the contest as well. There’s very little work for them to do, because you can find the Masters leaderboard all over the internet throughout the tournament.

If you’re wondering how we select a draft order, my friend literally throws our names into a hat and pulls them out randomly. We hold our draft the Tuesday before the Masters begins (again, the first round of the tournament is on Thursday every year).

I don’t have a favorite golfer, so the Masters Golf Tournament Challenge finally gives me someone to hang my hat on. We haven’t held our draft yet, but I’ll be rooting for my golfer like crazy. We usually get around 30 people playing, so our field of golfers runs pretty deep. That means I might be pulling for a guy like John Merrick. Again, your golfer doesn’t have to win the Masters, they just need to score better than the rest of the golfers picked in your Masters Golf Tournament Challenge pool.

It’s called the Masters Golf Tournament Challenge, but you can obviously use these rules for any tournament throughout the season. Feel free to alter the rules however you want. I just encourage you to have fun with your friends, coworkers and family. Let me know if you have any questions — or if you have a fun rule that you use that we don’t. You can simply leave a comment below, or you can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more on the world of sports!

Masters Golf Tournament Challenge