Photo Courtesy: Ryan Feuerstein

To some, he’s simply a 43-year-old eyesore who happens to somehow play baseball. To others, he’s a cult hero who happens to somehow play baseball. To all, he’s Bartolo Colón, a 43-year-old cult hero of sorts who continues to defy odds at the game’s highest level.

Colón was born in Altamira, a small town in the Dominican Republic in May of 1973, and according to a JockBio made on his account, lived in a home without electricity, plumbing, or even running water. His family was so poor that he could not afford a baseball or glove, for which they substituted with tightly wounded rags and a milk carton, respectively. He worked 12-hour days on a farm growing up, highly attributed to his deceiving strength.

When he was young, his body image and pitching style most clearly did not represent that of his form today. He was skinny and threw a fastball in the mid-90’s, whereas today his fastest pitch wont go above 89 miles per hour. That led to the Cleveland Indians signing him as an International Free Agent (IFA) in 1993. He excelled in the minor leagues, climaxing with a no hitter while pitching for the Buffalo Bisons (then-AAA affiliate of Cleveland) and was the only pitcher to ever throw a no hitter at Coca-Cola Field, where the Bisons play. That same season, he would make his Major League debut, ending the season at the MLB level with a 4-7 record with a 5.65 ERA (one of his worst numbers). He was left off the Indians’ Postseason roster that year, one that saw the city’s last American League Championship until 2016. In 1997 they lost to the Florida Marlins to give the Fish their first ever World Series championship in their first ever playoff appearance.

As his career progressed, Colón only got better and better. In 2000, he threw a one-hitter against the New York Yankees, who would go on to win the World Series that year against their crosstown-rivals, the New York Mets (Colón would later go on to pitch for both teams.) That same season, he finished allowing 98 walks (career worst), but struck-out 212 batters, by far a career high.

Colón was named to the All-Star Game four times, according to, in his sophomore season in 1998, his Cy Young Award-winning season in 2005, his 18-win season in 2013, and his 43-year old season this past season. His 2016 nomination is the most notable, as once again, he was 43-years-old. Despite spending all but one season in the National League prior to 2014, Bartolo signed with the Mets in the 2013 offseason on a 2-year, $20 million deal. Many thought that was overpaying for a 39-year old following a 2-year stint in Oakland that brought along a 50-game suspension after testing positive for synthetic testosterone–a PED banned by Major League Baseball–the first year, and success the following year

His career in New York has lamented him as a cult hero by many, and he has by all means deserved the folklore. Through three seasons in New York, he has racked up 44 wins, one of the top numbers in baseball since 2014. He has led the team in wins each of the three seasons as well. But what still seems unsolvable is the way he’s been able to do what he does. Since his debut, Bartolo has gained over one hundred pounds and he is no longer the power pitcher he once was. That said, he has since learned how to better locate his pitches, becoming a strikes-only pitcher. Remember that walk total in 2000 (98)? In three seasons and 98 regular season appearances with the Mets, he only walked a total of 86 batters. He has managed to lose velocity for accuracy, a move that is very undervalued in this age of power pitching in baseball.

Back to his status as a cult hero now. His lack of experience in the National League heading into his Mets career meant that he only had a limited amount of at bats (the American League has a designated hitter rule, allowing for a hitter to hit strictly in the pitcher’s spot in the order). Going into 2014, he hadn’t gotten a hit in nearly a decade (he racked a single in 2005 while with the Angels). His inexperience at the plate led to hilariously funny at bats, ones that resulted in him losing his helmet (multiple times), flailing away at a ball well outside, and even literally leaving the bat on his shoulders for a strikeout. That said, he notched three hits in 2015, and almost tripled that total to 8 hits (and his first four RBIs since 2005) in 2015. In 2016, he accomplished two things at the plate that were major league records. He hit his first home run in May against the San Diego Padres, a moment deemed “one of the greatest moments in baseball history” by Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen. That prompted a social media outbreak, merchandising opportunity, and a National League Pitcher of the Week award. His other major accomplishment? His first Major League walk. Bartolo became the player with the most at bats before his first career walk, and he became the oldest player ever to hit his first career home run. All at 285+ pounds of pure folklore.

If there is anything to learn from Colón’s completely out-of-the-blue story, it’s that nothing is impossible. Referring to Vin Scully’s famous home run call from the 1988 World Series, when Kirk Gibson homered literally on pure will and strength (he was injured with a bad leg and was told he cannot physically play), “in a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!” Of course were not talking about one year, but rather the 19+ season career of Bartolo Colón, who has defied the odds over the course of those 19 years, with seemingly no end in sight.

*All stats courtesy of STATS, inc and ESPN

Written by Ryan Feuerstein


Jaywalking in NYC



Photo Courtesy:

The light is shining a blaring red, but there seem to be no cars nearing the intersection. A pedestrian decides to rush across, hurrying to their final destination. Beep Beep an annoyed driver honks their horn. If you’re a New Yorker you have definitely experienced this. In the city that never sleeps, people are constantly jaywalking. Jaywalking is when an individual crosses the street without regard for approaching traffic. In New York people are always rushing, whether is is to work or home, and feel that waiting that one minute is a nuisance.

New Yorkers are not only proud jaywalkers, but also lawbreakers. Jaywalking in NYC is a common practice that New Yorkers commit every day and therefore they technically break the law on a daily basis. According to Title 34, Section 4-04 Subsection (b) of the New York City Administrative Code: “No pedestrian shall enter or cross a roadway at any point where signs, fences, barriers, or other devices are erected to prohibit or restrict such crossing or entry and no pedestrian shall cross any roadway at an intersection except within a crosswalk.” Jaywalking is clearly illegal in NYC and can result in an individual getting a fine and in extreme cases, jail time (Pix11 News).                             

Jaywalking is hazardous and is a major contributor to street danger. Annually, New York sees approximately 4,000 people injured and 250 killed by car accidents (Vision Zero). Though not every injury is due to jaywalking, jaywalking does add on to the numbers. Many accidents could be prevented if pedestrians took more of an initiative to be aware of their surroundings and abide by the law.

It must be noted that many New Yorkers are not even aware of the jaywalking law or simply disagree with it. When asking a New York pedestrian, Lisette Espinal, about the jaywalking law she seemed surprised and asked “There’s a law against jaywalking?” Generally, jaywalking laws are not enforced. This is because it is such a routine action that people do not even see as it wrong. Millions of New Yorkers jaywalk and therefore it may be unrealistic for police officers to enforce the law. They cannot hand out tickets and handcuffs to every individual in the city and the few times they do it is seen as unfair since a neighboring pedestrian does not get punished for the same crime. Though it is uncommon to see this law enforced, improvements by the NYPD have been initiated.

However, New Yorkers need to watch out as the NYPD is stepping up their game. In 2014, Mayor Bill De Blasio pledged to minimize pedestrians deaths. As a result, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, in January and February of 2014 had given out 452 jaywalking tickets, in comparison to only 531 tickets for all of 2013 (NY Post). Police officers are not holding back as much as they used to. Some New Yorkers think this a great way to lower the pedestrian death rate. Jamie Nicolo, a high school student from the Academy of American Studies, admits that she is guilty of jaywalking, but believes the law should be enforced. She said “I first hand got to experience the brutality of jaywalking. Two years ago, my brother’s friend passed away crossing a busy intersection carelessly at Queens Boulevard and was hit by a car. If she only walked a few seconds faster or slower, or even peeked over at the lights she could have still been here today. The Boulevard of Death took the life of a precious sixteen year old.” However, some people, like Lisette Espinal, find it to be “ridiculous.” According to Ms.Espinal, “there is no efficient way to enforce a law as such. I mean, realistically speaking, people in the city are always going to jaywalk and police officers can’t possibly chase everyone around to hand them a ticket. The only way they could maybe give out tickets fairly is by having an officer standing at every cross way which would be a waste of resources. The NYPD should focus on real crimes, not little petty ones like this.” Either way, the next time you plan on crossing the street with a blaring red light you might want to think twice.

Jaywalking is like breathing to many New Yorkers and though the law may be more strongly enforced, it is doubtful that pedestrians will totally give up this habit. It becomes a question of what is more important: enforcing pedestrian safety or enforcing other laws?

Written by Anna Syska

Filled to the Brim


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Photo Courtesy: Tatiana Garcia

The Academy of American Studies, although intended to be a small party with a short guest list, has exceeded its own expectations with the number of admitted students. Although the amount of students in classrooms has shown little change, the general population has increased quite a bit in recent years. If you were to turn back the clock on the Academy of American Studies, you would see significant difference in the number of students. You might have been able to walk through the hallways and not rub against the shoulder of at least five other people. The 2008-2009 school year saw the Academy’s student population at approximately 600, according to the New York City Department of Education’s  website. It begs the question, why so many?

Discussing admittance with the principal gave very valuable insight into the high school admissions process, and unexpected flashbacks of combing through the High School Directory. “It’s not a perception that we are overcrowded”, he said in response to the growing feeling of an overcrowded Academy, “We are overcrowded”. Principal Bassell was very clear in outlining the role of the Department of Education. “We admit 170 students per year with the expectation that we will receive closer to 200…”, he continued, “In recent years, more students have accepted the offer than the DOE’s initial calculation”. The increase in general student population, is simply a matter of Academy’s rising popularity.

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), has set guidelines regarding the nature of their contracts. In the state of New York, the maximum class sizes within traditional classrooms cannot exceed 34 students per 1 teacher. “Smaller class sizes are easier to teach because there are less bodies in the room”, says one science teacher.  When asked specifically about ease of instruction, she claimed, “I feel that classroom instruction is more intimate, more focused”. Classroom management, a crucial skill for any grade school teacher, is affected primarily by the dynamic of the students within the room of instruction. The number of students in the room attributes to this. “The more kids, the more chances for kids to be acting in ways that need to be corrected”, says she,  “Larger classes are harder to control than smaller ones”. But most importantly, “Every class is different”, and in her experience, it has always been about seeing the brightness in students, and observing how they learn, how they analyze, and how they grow intellectually, as well as socially. Classroom size at the Academy of American Studies has remained relatively static, but a growing general population attributes to the growing sense of volume in the building.

Have you ever had a problem not being able to make it in class on time due to the amount of students entering and exiting the school? Are you feeling squished in your own gym class? Well, at the Academy of American Studies many students define this as an overcrowded school. In this case, do you believe that overcrowded schools affect students’ education? Studies show that the average student daydreams or loses focus in class 15% of the time according to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). While at the Academy, it does not exceed its limit of 34 students per classroom, students continue to argue that it feels as if they are being squished in a small space. A senior shared her comments on the changes she saw throughout the four years she’s been at the Academy of American Studies. Tenzin Chimi said, “It’s been difficult to get from one class to another due to the amount of students in this school, I end up being late to my first or second period class because it’s a hassle to get into the building, it wasn’t like this my freshmen year.” At the Academy, the teachers give you five minutes to get to class, but according to Tenzin it takes her about ten minutes to enter the building and another 3-5 minutes going up the stairs. She believes this issue is detrimental to student learning, not because they aren’t concentrating, but because of the time they need to take to arrive at their classrooms. Seniors said that the difference from their freshmen year to their senior year was an enormous change, but the Freshmen perspective gives different insight.

Harpreet Kaur a current ninth grader was asked how many students are in her Gym class. She responded with 200 students. When asked if she ever felt uncomfortable with 200 students in one class room, she responded with, “It’s unusual, I’ve never felt so close to someone till I enter my gym class”. Harpreet continued to explain how her transition from middle school to her high school was different, but she doesn’t believe it effects her education. The seniors who have been at the Academy for four years believe otherwise due to the change they have experienced throughout the years. So, is the Academy of American Studies really overcrowded or are the students simply not adjusting?  Perhaps it is a matter of perspective.

Written by Artie Street and Tatiana Garcia