(CBS) After making history and winning the World Series last season, the Cubs have their sights set on doing it all again.
The Cubs begin their 2017 season on Sunday night when they play the rival Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Their roster remains mostly the same, with the young core locked in for many years ahead.
For such a young team, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is impressed with their sharp drive to repeat as champions. He discussed that with the Hit & Run show Sunday morning on 670 The Score.
“I don’t know what we did to deserve this,” Epstein said. “We’re lucky to have players — even the young guys — (that) are just incredibly focused. They’re hungry, they want to win. They did a ton of preparation in the offseason. They’re low maintenance. We don’t really have to do much.
“We had an open dialogue about what it means when you win, and how there are certain dangers. But our guys don’t really need it. They kind of manage themselves. They’ve got their eyes on the prize.”
Epstein has been part of two World Series titles before arriving in Chicago, but his Boston teams failed to repeat the following season. In 2005, the Red Sox were swept by the White Sox in the ALDS. In 2008, they lost to the Rays in the AL wild-card game.
The difference with the Cubs is their youth and continuity. Their focus ever since winning last November has been on doing it again, which Epstein views as different from other teams.
“I don’t think there’s anything normal or usual about our group of guys,” Epstein said. “I don’t take it for granted. I mean this, it’s really not the norm — especially for millennials, really, what we’re dealing with here — to be so self-motivated, so team-first, so hungry. No, it’s not normal, but we appreciate it. It’s really those guys and their approach to the game which really created an identify for our organization. That’s terrific.”
The Cubs’ attempt to repeat begins on Sunday night with the opener in St. Louis. First pitch comes just after 7:30 p.m. CT, and the game can be heard on 670 The Score, with pregame beginning at 7 p.m.
Epstein and his young team are eager to begin their title defense.
“There’s only one team in position to do this,” he said. “That’s us. We see that as an honor, and we’re going to do everything we can to try to get it done again.”