Exclusive Q&A: Dave Winfield talks CWS, Ichiro, Cubs and more

College World Series teams arrive in Omaha
College World Series teams arrive in Omaha

The College World Series opens this weekend and, with that, universities have the chance to wrap up big points in the Capital One Cup race.

The Capital One Cup is awarded annually to each of the best men's and women's Division I college athletics programs in the country. Points toward the Capital One Cup are earned and tracked throughout the year based on cumulative points for all sports determined by final standings of NCAA Championships and final official coaches' polls.

One winning men's and one winning women's program will be crowned after the completion of the final NCAA spring championships. Capital One will award a combined $400,000 in student-athlete scholarships and the Capital One Cup trophy to the winning schools at the ESPY awards in July. The winner of the 2016 College World Series will earn 60 points toward the Capital One Cup.

Here's this weekend's slate:

Saturday, June 18

Game 1: UC Santa Barbara vs. Oklahoma State, 3 p.m. ESPN2

Game 2: Arizona vs. Miami, 8 p.m. ESPN2

Sunday, June 19

Game 3: TCU vs. Texas Tech, 3 p.m. ESPNU

Game 4: Coastal Carolina vs. Florida, 8 p.m. ESPN2

With the big weekend finally here, baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield took some time to talk with AOL Sports about the Capital One Cup and other hot topics.

Q: What is the best part of working closely with the Capital One Cup?

A: This is the culmination, the last sport, of the year-long challenge for the Capital One Cup for the Division 1 schools who are vying for all men's and women's programs to win. The winner will capture 60 points and it will go toward their finish. Whatever school wins, they'll be honored at the ESPY awards, but more importantly, $400,000 will go to the athletic programs to help their kids. I just really appreciate it. All these schools are good. If you make it here, I give them credit and kudos.

I've gotten a chance to go on the field, talk to these athletes and families and they look at me, whose successful and accomplished and created an athletic career that many of these young men would like to create too. When I'm in Omaha, when I see how the town is enlivened by these athletes and families, it's a proud time. There's so many kids and it gives me a positive approach, mindset, that we have good kids out here. With all the other things going on in the world, when you see this competition, these families, it boosts morale. Everyone is involved in something wholesome.

Q: What were some of your best memories as a student-athlete?

A: I'd start with baseball. I grew up, I was eight years old playing, and at 12 I told people I would play pro baseball and nobody wanted to listen. Having played college basketball, too, we were a powerhouse (at the University of Minnesota) and ranked as high as fourth in the country. We had five guys drafted to play in the NBA. Those are all memories I'll always remember. Minnesota gave me that opportunity.

Q: What's your take on the debate between Ichiro and Pete Rose and the title of 'All-time Hit King'?

A: Honestly, this is how I look at it. There was controversy around it because of the hits in the Japanese league. I respect what both players were able to accomplish. If it was all-time home run leader, though, Sadaharu Oh had more homers than anybody and America didn't recognize that. Bonds has surpassed Hank, but Oh had more than both of them (868). I'd think that would translate to overall hits for Ichiro as well, but we go off what they do in the majors. But it doesn't take away from his accomplishments.

I remember when he first came up, he was very aware of what was going on in America. He signed a bat for me. And when he went to New York, he wore 31. I turned him around and said 'what's this?' because that was my number (laughs).

Q: At this point in time, would you be confident in picking the Cubs to finally end their World Series drought?

A: At this time, they certainly do have a good chance. Their hitting has been OK. Pitching is what's carrying them. They really fun to watch and their manager keeps them loose unlike any other team in baseball. There's pictures circulating on the internet with guys dressed in crazy outfits and all that. I hope that they do well. I like their team and I like their chances.

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