Interview with Patrick Laffin

This is from an interview made with Patrick well before he arrived in Sweden. Parts of it made it into the game day program, although with in a Swedish version.

It will take a few minutes to read through, but it is well spent time to acquaint yourself with Patrick before the season starts.

Tell us a bit about yourself and where you come from?

I am from Boston, Massachusetts, and I have lived here my whole life.  I went to college at North Carolina Wesleyan College, where I played baseball and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Business Administration.

Did you read up on Gothenburg as a city yet?

I did a lot of research on Gothenburg, and I am beyond excited to be spending the summer in such a beautiful and awesome city.  Prior to making my decision on where to play, I did a lot of reading and general research on Sweden as a country, and I was amazed at what I found out.  The country has such a rich culture, full of history and traditions, that I never really knew about until this opportunity presented itself.  The more I read into Sweden though, the more I began to fall in love with one particular city: Gothenburg.  I cant wait to go to stroll the streets and take in the beauty, go check out the Maritime Museum, and of course go to Liseberg!

What’s the word on the street about Sweden? Is it all tall blonde, good looking women and IKEA?

Whenever I mention to anyone I am going to Sweden, I get one of two responses, depending on the gender of who is talking.  If it is a girl, they get all excited and start talking about Ikea, and the wonderful and creative world of Swedish design.  If it is a guy, it’s all about the blonde Swedish women, and the occasional Swedish meatball.  Of course, I also know of the Vikings, and Volvo, and all the stereotypical Swedish stuff; but I know that the country has a lot more to offer, and I am so excited to experience it all!

What have you heard about the Swedish baseball game?

I have heard that baseball in Sweden, as is much of Europe, is still a growing sport.  With that being said, I have also heard that is quite good and very competitive.

In preparation for Europe, did you alter your off-season routines this year or are you sticking to an old programme of strength and conditioning combined with hitting and fielding?

I have a pretty set routine of strength training and conditioning I stick to all year round.  This year has been a little different though, as for the past several seasons I have been used to working out with a team in college, but I think it will benefit me as a player because I can focus more on what I want to work on. I have an indoor state of the art baseball training facility close by that I go to everyday of the week.  I have a pretty set routine during the week and a typical day for me consists of hitting and throwing in the morning, lifting and cardio in the afternoon, and helping coach younger kids at night through lessons and group training.

Do you think playing ball in Sweden (or Europe in general) will change the way you view the sport? Are there any differences between the gameplay aspect of baseball in Europe and back home in the States?

I am sure by playing in Sweden, and in Europe in general, I will get a different view on the sport. Without first hand experience and having never played in Europe, or with European players, I look forward to seeing if and how the game differs. Having played with many Latin American players, I noticed the American game to be more about pitching and power, while the Latin Americans game to be more emphasis is on defense and speed.  I believe anytime you play at a new level, whether its college, high school, or even Little League, your view of the sport changes, and I’m sure playing in a new country will be no exception.

What did baseball mean to you growing up as a kid? 

Baseball meant everything to me growing up and the best memories from my childhood all revolve around baseball, whether it was playing with my friends in a park or abandoned field, or playing Little League.  Baseball  has brought closeness to my family as they have always supported me and attended my games whenever possible.  In addition, I have made hundreds of great friends with team mates, their families and coaches throughout my years playing.

What’s your best baseball memory? Is it something that happened on the field while you were playing yourself? Or is it catching a foulball at a major league game?

I have had so many great baseball memories, from my first homerun in Little League to my last hit in college, and all the game winning hits and great plays in between; but I feel the best baseball memories I have didn’t happen at a specific time or place, but it’s an accumulation of all the little things that mean the most to me.  Playing catch with my dad in the yard, and the hundreds or thousands of times we went to the field together to hit just the two of us.  Stepping up to the plate and always hearing my mom cheer for me, and getting a hug from her after every game.  Looking into the stands and seeing my sister there supporting me, even though there is a million things she would rather be doing.  Those memories mean more to me than any specific play or hit ever could.

How would a baseball scout describe your skills as a ballplayer?

Scouts have described me as a power hitter with power to all sides of the field.  I am a solid defensive player with an above average arm and great knowledge of the game.

You’ve been praised for your community work off the field. Tell us about what projects you’ve been involved with?

I do a lot of work with children with special needs.  I am involved in many programs, in which I totor, mentor, and most importantly become close friends with, many children who have various special needs.  I also mentor at risk children in the city, and act as a “big brother” to troubled teen.  I think my biggest project, and the one I am most proud of is the work I did with a boy named Andrew who has Down-Syndrome.  Andrew was in my grade in school, and had a huge passion for basketball.  However, he was told he would not be able to try out for the team because it would be too hard for the coach to have to deal with him at practice and coach the team.  So, instead of playing varsity basketball my Junior and Senior years in High School, I worked with him everyday during basketball season one on one, so he could be a member of the basketball team.  My proudest moment came when he hit a three point shot in a Varsity Basketball game his senior season, and ran off the court and gave me a hug. Andrew got a standing ovation for 5 minutes from everyone at the game.  It was a life changing moment, and one I will never forget.

When not playing baseball, what are your favorite things to do? Hit the movies? Play videogames? Play basketball? Tell us

I love spending time with my friends.  I have a great group of friends and we are always very competitive playing all different sports all the time.  My favorite sport to play besides baseball is Hockey.  I also do a lot of Snowboarding in the winter.  In addition, I love music and I play guitar and piano.

What’s your favorite major league team?

My favorite major league team is the Boston Red Sox.  To live in Boston and not be a Red Sox fan would be impossible, and quite frankly, wrong!

Favorite major league player? Active or retired, doesn’t matter.

My favorite player of all time is Ted Williams.  I believe that he is the best hitter to ever live, and if he didn’t give 6 of his prime years to go to World War II and Korea, he would have broken all the hitting records.

Besides the obvious baseball gear and stuff you usually pack for a holiday, name one thing that you’re definitely bringing to Sweden.

A Camera and journal!  I want to remember this trip for the rest of my life!!!

Do you play fantasy sports? Baseball or Football? Anything like that?

I play fantasy baseball and hockey.  In college, the baseball players used to take our fantasy baseball league pretty intense, all putting in $20 dollars, so the winner would win a couple hundred dollars!

Being from around the Boston area – what’s your take on the infamous Red Sox clubhouse situation with beer and chicken? The year of Bobby V?

I feel that Bobby V was a scapegoat for the lack of leadership and a sense of responsibility amongst the players.  The fact that all the players knew it was going on, and no one stepped up and said anything, is ridiculous and all of the players, whether they were the ones eating the chicken and drinking the beer, or playing the game, should feel ashamed that they let the fans and the city of Boston down.  They are professionals, making millions of dollars to play a game, they need to know better and be better role models.

The Red Sox have made some nice moves this off-season getting former pitching coach John Farrell back as the new manager, signing Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, trading for Joel Hanrahan etc. Is it enough to climb back into contention in a tough AL East?

I fear signing a bunch of mediocre talent is not enough to bring them close to even being considered a decent team.  They need to change some things internally, starting with the ownership, to climb back into contention.  They will never have leaders in the clubhouse, if they do not first have leaders in the owners box.

Expectations on the upcoming major league season? Any teams that really stand out as contenders? Any obvious bottom dwellers (yeah I’m looking at you Astros and Marlins!)? 

I was really impressed with some of the moves the Blue Jays made in the off season, and I think they are going to be a huge surprise team in 2013.  I think the Angels and Rangers will both be decent again in the American League.  In the National League, I think the Nationals, Reds, and Dodgers will be great!  I think the Astros, Cubs, Twins, and Marlins will all be disappointments once again!

It’s still early but can we please get your picks for the World Series and who’ll be the WS champ? Will it be a Freeway Series in LA with the Angels and the Dodgers? 

I think the World Series is going to be Angels vs Nationals, with the Angels winning it in 6 games!

Thoughts on MVP’s and CY Young winners in each league from the past year? Really tight races and we’d love your take on it.

For once, I actually agree with the MVP’s Cy Young, and Rookies of the Year picks from 2012.  Miguel Cabrera winning the Triple Crown, and Buster Posey leading San Francisco, were both worthy recipients.  I thought it was interesting to see a knuckleballer win the Cy Young in R.A. Dickey, and I also feel that David Price was somewhat of a surprise Cy Young winner, but both were deserving.  And how can anyone argue with Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, they are both straight nasty!!