Cubs to wear track suits on latest theme trip as ode to NBA Finals

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs' next theme trip is an ode to the NBA Finals as pitcher Jon Lester and strength coach Tim Buss handed out track suits to the entire team for their three-city tour through the NL East which begins in Philadelphia on Monday.

"In Philly you have to wear it on the bus," manager Joe Maddon said as he sported his track suit jacket Saturday morning. "Very NBA. It's the Jon Lester tribute to the NBA Finals road trip."

Maddon approved of the idea as he enjoys when his players take ownership of team bonding experiences. Each player had his outfit hanging in their locker stalls on Saturday with nicknames on the back of their jackets.

"I like Snake (for Jake Arrieta)," reliever Trevor Cahill said. "I remember always having to wear a suit and tie in Arizona and it's like 100 degrees. I always wondered why we don't just wear jumpsuits and now we are."

Not everyone has a clever nickname as on the back of Cahill's jersey it simply said "Trevor." Players had one common idea about the gimmick: Comfort.

"We'll be way comfortable on the plane," right fielder Jason Heyward said.

Second baseman Ben Zobrist added: "I guess pajamas might rival it a little bit but a track suit is pretty comfortable. I'm a big fan of this."

Maddon has brought his "theme trips" with him from Tampa Bay. Just since the beginning of last season there's been the onesie pajama trip, the shorts-only roadie, the zany suit trip and now track suits. There have been others too.

"These are easy," pitcher Kyle Hendricks said. "After the zany suits it's all downhill from there. We'll probably wear these more often than just this trip."

Besides bonding, Maddon finds at least one serious aspect to dressing up on road trips: He likes his players stepping outside their comfort zone. As part of the zany suit trip to Pittsburgh he made the players wear their outfits everywhere they went outside the ballpark. Maddon feels if they can get comfortable in an uncomfortable situation it can help them in a big moment in a game.

Plus it's simply fun to do.

"I intend on wearing it as often as the weather will permit," Maddon said. "I intend to pack very lightly on this trip and bring T-shirts and sneakers and toothpaste."