The defending World Series champion Astros have heard all about the proverbial "hangover" that sets in the season after winning a title. But Houston remains confident it will avoid falling victim to such a phenomenon.
The Astros witnessed the Cubs win their first championship in 108 years in 2016 before being knocked out of the 2017 postseason in the National League Championship Series. After taking home its first title in franchise history in '17, Houston is looking to evade a similar fate.
"We're not the Cubs," left-hander Dallas Keuchel told The Washington Post. "I firmly believe we have better players."
No Major League franchise has won consecutive Fall Classics since the Yankees prevailed in three straight from 1998-2000.
Astros players spent the beginning of the shortest offseason in baseball history (148 days), according to The Post's Dave Sheinin, visiting Disney World, doing media interviews and appearing on "Saturday Night Live."
"I think that demand on your time is more of the quote-unquote hangover than anything else," Astros right-hander Lance McCullers told The Post. "It's just the time you didn't get to devote to preparing for the season. I did all the media stuff, all the requests -- sometimes two, three times a day -- which plays into it as well. That's not an offseason. That's a media tour.
"That first month after the World Series -- other guys are lifting, getting stronger, getting ready for the season and you're running around doing interviews and other stuff. Which is great -- because you won the World Series. But at the same time, it just contributes to the mental fatigue that you deal with during the season."
Despite some of Houston's players beginning their normal offseason routines a few weeks later than usual, the Astros feel good about their chances of repeating as champions in 2018.
" We're managing it really good," second baseman Jose Altuve told Sheinin of the World Series hangover. "The guys here are smart enough to know what they have to do in Spring Training. If you need to take it easy, you can take it easy. I think we're going to be totally fine. I tell you what -- I like what I see."
Oliver Macklin | MLB.com