As of Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs are World Series champions, curse breakers, and the sports equivalent to a sexy Al Green song. But the team was one thing long before they got their rings — a team with the “best-smelling bullpen” in American baseball. Some scientists would argue the team’s nasal vanity isn’t purely aesthetic: Research suggests their pleasant aromas gave them a leg up in the competition.
The players aren’t shy about their penchant for cologne. In October, Cubs relief pitchers Carl Edwards Jr., Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon told the Wall Street Journal their team motto: If you smell good, you perform well. Each of them have a personal preference — for example, Rondon spritzes on a little “Sexual Paris” by Michael Germain — which makes the bullpen smell less like sweaty baseball players and more like a club on a Saturday night.
“They’re the best-smelling players I’ve ever seen — by far,” Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez told the Wall Street Journal. “You go up to them and shake their hand and they smell good.”
The Cubs players follow in the footsteps of other cologne-wearing athletes, like David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and Acides Escobar of the Kansas City Royals. By wearing a fragrance, each man provided proof of some real scientific theories that say body odor perception affects how others perceive you and, perhaps more importantly, how you perceive yourself. As one PLOS One study showed in 2012, men who cover their odor with a fragrance are perceived as more attractive; furthermore, men who wear scents feel more confident than unscented men, according to the textbook Neurobiology of Sensation and Reward.
The odorific elements of natural male body odor itself, in contrast, aren’t strong enough to intimidate an opposing team. It’s estimated that up to one-third of adult men and women cannot perceive a component in male odor that would trigger a physiological response. While winning a World Series game would definitely raise Cubs players’ testosterone levels, it’s uncertain whether their natural sweaty musk would intimidate others.
Baseball, like all sports, is a game of self-confidence. Besides, like the Cubs boys said, smelling good makes you feel good. Accordingly, Michel Germain, the company that makesthe Cubs-preferred Sexual Paris, is on board. “Mandarin orange, even a basil is incredible,” a spokesman advised. “They’re very invigorating.”