Cuddly, creepy and amazing.
That's the only way to describe the most interesting promotional item announced for the 2012 MLB season. The Tampa Bay Rays announced their 2012 promotional schedule on Wednesday and the item that drew the most attention wasn't the Evan Longoria walk-off figurine from game 162, a bobblehead or any of the other more common items. Instead it was the Zim Bear, a teddy bear in a Rays uniform with the face of Don Zimmer, that became the most talked about item.
It's not the first time the Rays have made a splash with an outside-of-the-box promotional item. In 2010 the team created a buzz with its Carlos Pena toothbrush holder. The team was selected by Maury Brown from bizofbaseball.com that year to have the best series of promos and the toothbrush holder as the Promo of the Year.
Unlike the Pena toothbrush holder, the Zim Bear doesn't really have any practical purposes. Seriously, how many uses could there be for a soft and cuddly teddy bear with the face of a man that is in his 64th year in professional baseball?
Maddon didn't seem to believe that it was cuddly enough to be a gift to the toddler nearest you. Maddon said, ""I don't want my 2-year-old putting that in the crib — that could be life-altering right there. … I think it's more appropriate on a grown-up's desk."
Even Don Zimmer himself wasn't sure how to react to his likeness wrapped in a bear's body.
Zimmer said, "What can I say? … Wait till my kids see this."
For those interested in getting the Zim Bear, according to the team's press release on Friday, June 29, the first 10,000 fans will receive a one-of-a-kind Zim Bear presented by the Tampa Bay Times as the Rays face the AL Central division champion Detroit Tigers.
Just don't keep it in plain view of where you or anyone you love will be sleeping unless you plan on creeping them out in the most cuddly way.
Jamal Wilburg is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
Information from the Tampa Bay Times was used in this article.