Smells like team spirit: Yankees find nirvana in scented candles

Earlier this season, the Minnesota Twins revived their offense with the good luck charm of a summer sausage. But the New York Yankees‘ pitching staff has benefited all season from its own talismans, ones that are far more pleasant — especially in terms of aroma — with no concerns about rotting or spoilage.

Candles have taken over the Yankees’ clubhouse this season, as reported by Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein. Scents such as butterscotch, citrus and bamboo fill the air in the locker room, thanks to the team’s starting pitchers.

The enthusiasm for scented candles was lit by Marcus Stroman, who brought his preference to the Bronx upon signing with the club.

“A few years ago, he began lighting a candle before every start. He burns them all the time at home, he says, and he wanted to bring that sense of calm to his workplace. He blows out the wick just before he heads into the dugout. He prefers a strong scent—bamboo, for example, or palo santo—so his teammates caught wind.”

Everyone else in the starting rotation has embraced bringing their preferred candle on the days they pitch. Initially, the players’ wives helped in picking out particular scents. Clarke Schmidt‘s mother, who runs a boutique in Atlanta, was a major provider at one point.

But the pitchers now take pride in selecting their own candles, even taking group trips to local stores to get their fix.

Refreshing scents or the feelings of zen that might come with lighting a candle have obviously had a positive effect on the Yankees. The team has the best record in the American League at 46-21 going into Monday’s schedule, while the pitching staff’s 2.90 ERA is tops in MLB. Only the Philadelphia Phillies‘ rotation has a better ERA than the Yankees’ 2.85 mark.

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