No team ever thinks that they'll succumb to the dreaded World Series hangover. They know the risks, they managed the offseason, everything is fine. Hell, the Cubs said they weren't experiencing a World Series hangover. They started 26-27 before hitting the gas and eventually winning the NL Central
You can't quantify a World Series hangover, but the Astros think they'll be just fine. In an interview with The Orlando Sentinel, several Astros players talked about a prospective slow start, and they addressed the possibility. According to pitcher Dallas Kuechel, however, it's a non-issue.
"We're not the Cubs," he said. "I firmly believe we have better players."
Ouch. Some other players, however, were a bit more nuanced in approaching their 2018 outlook.
"It certainly wasn't a normal winter," Charlie Morton told The Orlando Sentinel. "I have a greater appreciation for the teams that are in the postseason every year, because the guys on those teams — that's a lot of baseball. That's a lot of high-energy, high-pressure games. It's exhausting to watch it, let alone play it. I don't know if I would call [the next year] a hangover, but let's just say I understand the sentiment."
Morton understands the crux of the matter: Winning the World Series is exhausting. There's a parade with flowing alcohol, you're doing talk show appearances, random guest spots -- you're everywhere. Except for the diamond. The Cubs' hangover, by all accounts, should have lasted longer. Because that was a team winning arguably one of the most important World Series ever. They could have taken the next season off and still been talked about. But they started slow and bounced back, like good teams do.
Dallas Kuechel had better hope he's wrong, though. The Astros come into 2018 with a target on their back. They played more baseball than any team that wasn't the Dodgers last season, they're the team to beat this year, and they're not a fun little secret anymore. Every team wants to stop a champion from becoming a dynasty. The Cubs came back fine after a slow start last year. They won 92 games and made the NLCS. Even if a hangover is inevitable, how long it goes on for is up to the talent.
Parades are exhausting on a good day. But for the Astros, the parade is over. Now it's time to focus on 2018, and hope that they can do something no team has done since the 1998, 1999 and 2000 Yankees: Repeat as World Series champs.