Why These Players are a Catch
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Eye color: Brown
Hair color: Black
Eye color: Blue
Hair color: Brown
1. When did you start playing baseball?
OP: I started when I was three or four just going to the parking lot with my mom. I started playing for a team when I was six. MM: I was pretty similar. I started throwing the baseball with my dad around four or five years old. He just taught me how to throw and catch, but I didn’t play organized baseball until the seventh grade. I was in China, and then when I moved back for high school, I picked it up again, so it hasn't been that long actually.
2. What were your team goals for this season?
OP: Win the championship. Win our first playoff game because we haven’t done that in a while as a Stuyvesant team. We also wanted to develop the younger grades because they are really good—the sophomores and the freshmen. We must develop them and make sure they get better in order for them to lead when they are juniors and seniors. MM: To add on, there are four seniors and three who pitch. Developing the younger guys is important. Another thing would be to be a .500 or above team. Last year, we went 7-9, so our coaches were definitely encouraging from the beginning to have the mentality to go for it all—to go out there and win the entire team, win the championship, and then from there, to have more realistic sub-goals in mind. Like Owen was saying, I want us to win our first playoff game or have a really good playoff seed by being 500 or better. Then, there’s individual stuff like having a better swing or knowing what to do in specific situations.
3. Are there any skills you want to improve on, and what position do you play?
OP: I’m a pitcher and I also play first base. A skill I want to improve on is mostly that I want to throw harder while being in control of my game mentally. I also want to improve on not letting small things get to me while I’m on the mound. MM: I play second base and I pitch a little bit. My goal as a second baseman is to continue putting in the consistent work and being a little smoother in the field. I want to really develop chemistry with our new shortstop Sam Levine. He’s a sophomore and he’s really really good, so working on not just fielding the ball but also on double plays and run down plays is important. I also want to pick off moves from second base with the pitcher. Both of those things I mentioned require communication and practice with the pitcher, so that’s something we worked on. At the plate, adjust to that mentality, develop a leadoff hitter mindset, and be a little more selective with the pitches. As a pitcher, as Owen said, be more mentally in control and develop mental toughness. Work on those secondary pitches like the change-up and the curve ball.
4. Were there any challenges the team faced this year?
OP: Last year, we had five people pitching and we lost four of them, which was a big loss. One of our biggest challenges concerned who was going to step up and be that number three guy. Max was one of those people, and after Max, who’s going to be number four and so on in the bullpen? The other thing is that Stuyvesant has never had a physically strong team because we are so young; we were especially young this year. Offensively, we were going to have to be a little more unconventional than past years. MM: Just to piggyback off Owen, it was definitely a challenge with hitting. Last year, the captains, Jared (Asch ‘19), Malcolm (Hubbell ‘19), Cooper (Nissenbaum ‘19), and Jeremy (Rubin ‘19), were 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively, so we were going to have to look for a new lineup. Knowing when to bunt in situations is also important. Jonathan Lee, who is a sophomore, is super fast; he can fly and he’s on the track team. Overall, we would have had good team chemistry with the younger guys this year, but we will see what happens.
5. How do you deal with schoolwork and baseball? Any tips?
OP: The number one thing that helped me academically—because I also have football in the fall —is waking up early and getting all my work done in the morning. It’s definitely helped me a lot because I often get home from practice at 7:00 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. and then eat dinner at 8:30 p.m. I’d go to bed at 10:00 p.m. and wake up at 5:00 a.m. and do all my work then. I have to say that that’s the biggest way to balance everything, but also I know that if I have a game the next day, I’m not going to stay up late doing homework. Doing homework on the train is a big help, especially the ride home from the pier. MM: For me, it’s the same thing. I utilize every bit of extra time, from train rides to free periods. There is also a compromise you have to make when it comes to sports, especially because baseball is all year around. You have to do workouts in the fall and winter and then games in the spring. Sometimes, you have to study in advance or decide that you can’t give 100 percent to studying because you can’t do it all. I’m just putting my best while also being healthy mentally and physically—it’s important to gauge all that.
6. How has captainship changed your outlook on the game?
MM: As a senior this year, I was not expecting to be named a captain, especially since Owen and Franklin were playing football and I knew that they had been on varsity for three years. But then, our coach said that he’d like to name the team’s first captain—me. It was crazy and I didn’t expect it. I think some things that changed my outlook on the game are learning how to lead by example and learning by struggling. As a captain, you can talk and talk but not deliver to your team. Definitely learn how to lead the team and put 100 percent hustle both on and off the field—even if you’re not the best player on the team. I’m definitely not the best guy on the team, but one thing that I always do is that I always have the mindset of putting 100 percent and being ready to work. I think that’s something I really wanted to impart on the guys, especially the sophomores. OP: To add onto what Max said about leading by example, as underclassmen, you have to do annoying tasks like carrying a lot of stuff or getting the foul balls at the pier. When I became a junior, I was happy that I finally would not have to do things like that, but as a captain, I feel like I have to help out even though I don’t have to. Even when you don’t have anything to do, you still have something to do, especially with a really young team. You have to make sure that no one is slacking off. There’s no one else you can turn to if someone is slacking off. Last year, I would turn to Jeremy or Malcolm, but now, there’s no one to turn to. MM: One more thing I want to talk about is one of the struggles going into our season—how do you feel validated as a leader if you mess up? Everyone wants to feel needed as a player, but leaders must also be qualified to lead. If I strike out or do something stupid, such as not delivering performance-wise on the field, I would tell myself: “You are a captain, and you are better than that.” You always have to pass resilience, even if you mess up and make errors. Things aren’t always going to go your way and you have to bounce back and adapt to it. Last thing—there’s always some sort of hierarchy between underclassmen and upperclassmen, but it’s about treating everyone with respect and being friendly.
7. Proudest memory?
OP: When I first started junior year, I threw my first complete game, which was nice. I had no earned runs. MM: My favorite memory is also from last year; it was our game against Francis Lewis. I was still trying to prove myself in the lineup on the team, and I felt like some of the older guys knew that I still had to prove myself. I think I went three for three in that game and it was really tough. We ended up winning that game 5-4. It was the first game where I thought that I was really a contributing member of this team. I just felt really good about myself that game.
Drink of Choice:
>MM - Apple cider
>OP - Water (because I’m healthy)
>MM - Margarita pizza pie
>OP - Chipotlé
Motto to live by:
>MM - “Life is not a rehearsal, so you better get on with it.” —Tommy Emmanuel
>OP - Look good, play good.
>MM - My grandfather also went to Stuyveant—class of 1958!
>OP - I’m good at Irish tap dancing.