Jakub Janda interviewed the best pitcher of the 2011 campaign in the Czech Extraleague, Pat Ahearne. The American hurler of AVG Draci Brno talks about this year’s season, his work with the Czech National Team and an outlook for 2012 among other things.
Jakub Janda: Patrick, could you tell us how have you enjoyed the 2011 season?
Pat Ahearne: The 2011 season didn’t end the way I would have liked after we lost in the Finals, but overall it was a good experience. The players with Draci are a good group of guys and it was fun to work with them this season. It was different for me this year because the last two seasons, I was brought over mainly for the European cup and for the Playoffs so I would go back and forth from USA a couple times during the season. This year, I stayed with the team for the whole season. I am pleased to see how the players on the team improved during the course of the year and I’m also happy with my performance overall during the season and proud to have received Nejlepsi Nadhozovac for Extraliga 2011.
Jakub Janda: How did you like your role with the Czech National Team?
Pat Ahearne: My work with the National Team was the most enjoyable part of the summer. I did some work with the Seniors, but I was mainly the pitching coach with the Juniors during Prague Baseball Week and the European Championships in Spain. The Juniors are an excellent group of players that work hard and have a lot of heart. We became the Cinderella story of the tournament making it all the way to the final game and having the best finish ever for the Czech Juniors in the Euro Championship (2nd Place). I am especially proud of how all of them played and how they played together as a team. It was great to watch.
Jakub Janda: You have played in many playoff games. Could you go into the Final Series and give us your look on how it went?
Pat Ahearne: The final series was four very exciting hard fought games which unfortunately ended in a Draci loss and an end to the 16 year streak of championships. I would like to congratulate Technika players and management on their win. They deserve it.
The one game we did win was quite exciting as we were down to our last strike in the ninth inning with Hajtmar battling at the plate to come through with a big hit.
The rest of the series was marked by exciting matches with the game in the balance on every pitch and every play. It’s how a championship should be. When every play could decide the outcome of the game, the team that executes and makes the right decisions will come out on top. Unfortunately for us, Technika came through with big hits, executed plays when they needed to and made better decisions. That is why they deserved to win.
I don’t want to take any credit away from our players as they put in their best effort. It’s just how baseball is – whoever does it better on that particular day will win the game.
Jakub Janda: How do you schedule your 2012?
Pat Ahearne: My schedule for 2012 is not set at the moment. As far as Czech baseball, they need time to settle things after the season and see how their budgets will be for next year. I hope I will be able to return to the league and help Czech baseball as a whole and especially to join the Juniors coaching staff again as they go into the World Championships next September in Korea.
Jakub Janda: Do you still have some career goal to achieve?
Pat Ahearne: I have some career goals to acheive however they are in the area of coaching. I enjoy the challenge of coaching and guiding players to improvement. I enjoy trying to find any way to get players to be better than they ever thought they could be.
Jakub Janda: What keeps you in baseball, generally?
Pat Ahearne: Baseball has been part of my life even since before I started little league at 8 years old. I’ve been able to play all over the world and at the highest level of the game. Love of the game is what keeps me in baseball generally. I enjoy pitching very much and more and more I get excitement and satisfaction in coaching. I enjoy the challenge of coaching and at the same time it is the best way I know to give back to the game.