Move over terrifyingly adorable Zim Bear. The new must-have Tampa Bay Rays giveaway will be issued to the frenzied Trop masses Aug. 2 before a Saturday tilt against the Los Angeles Angels:
The Joe Maddon Mr. Potato Head!
Or as I like to call it: the "Joe-tato." (I totally call copyright.)
Sure, there's no reason for the Joe-tato to have a fielding glove (jeez, people are already grumbling about that), but it gets the manager's dorky specs just right. And it continues the home team's tradition, as ESPN the Magazine once remarked, as the most generous and creative giveaway squad in Major League Baseball.
The Rays have a slew of playfully inventive giveaway days scheduled for 2014, most of which are on Saturdays and Sundays. I'm probably missing some horrible logic, but if you want to fill the dome on a dreary Tuesday night against the Royals, shouldn't you dole out the Joe-tatoes then? After all, weekends are already pretty packed, right?
Carey Cox, the team's director of marketing, says the Rays have indeed tinkered with promotions strategy over the years. But in the end: "We've decided to just make the big days bigger."
Here's a sampling of the Rays' upcoming giveaway goodness:
• Wil Myers Rookie of the Year Bobblehead, April 5 vs. Texas Rangers. (Hopefully with removable hat and Medusa hair.)
• DJ Kitty Plush Hat, May 10 vs. Cleveland Indians. (Must have. Nowww.)
• Sun Hat, Mother's Day, May 11 vs. Cleveland Indians; James Loney Grill Set, an early Father's Day celebration, June 8 vs. Seattle Mariners.
• Chris Archer Christmas Stocking, July 27 vs. Boston Red Sox. (Okay, that's odd. But so is Archer, who wears his pants high with old-school striped stirrups that look kind of like Christmas stockings. Since this game will be a "Christmas in July" promo, it was a naturally wacky fit.)
• Evan Longoria '80s Hair Band Drummer Bobblehead, Sept. 6 vs. Baltimore Orioles. (Maybe Longo will finally change his screechy at-bat music and pick something hirsute like, you know, Ratt.)
As for the kiddies, giveaways include: a Desmond Jennings Baseball Buddy (April 6, Texas Rangers); Ben Zobrist Wiffle Ball Set (June 22, Houston Astros); Yunel Escobar Basketball Hoop (July 13, Toronto Blue Jays); Matt Moore Kids Plate and Cup Set (Aug. 31, Boston Red Sox).
As for Ticket Tandem items — obtained if fans purchase a special ticket for Friday games — they include: Alex Cobb Military Bobblehead (May 23, Boston Red Sox); Don Zimmer Snow Globe (July 25, Boston Red Sox); Joe Maddon Wine Glasses (Aug. 1, Los Angeles Angels); Raymond Gnome (Aug. 29, Boston Red Sox).
Times staff writer Sharon Kennedy Wynne contributed to this report. Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.