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The 5 weirdest and most ill-conceived MLB giveaways
The Mariano Rivera bobbleheads might have been late, but at least no Chia Pets were involved
 
The Zim Bear will haunt your dreams.
The Zim Bear will haunt your dreams. (Facebook.com/Rays)

Other than watching the Red Sox win in extra innings, few things enrage New York Yankee fans more than being denied plastic keepsakes of their pinstripe heroes. Or waiting in lines. Unfortunately, beleaguered Yankee fans had to endure both when Mariano Rivera bobbleheads were not available by game-time. It was not until the fourth inning that the Sandman bobbleheads were available, leading to a flood of belligerent, rushing Yankee fans that produced a level of "mayhem" in the Bronx likely not seen since before the Giuliani-era.

If not the most sophisticated, at the very least the Mariano Rivera bobbleheads are one of the sweetest and most sound Major League Baseball giveaways. Other teams have gone far stranger routes to entice fans into their stadiums. Here is a list of incredibly weird, borderline distasteful, and ill-conceived MLB giveaways:

5. Flower Seed Packet Night at Yankee Stadium

Unfortunately for Yankee fans, the giveaways that did actually arrive on time this season were pretty strange and disappointing. On April 18, the Bronx bombers packed 'em in with flower seed packet giveaways for the lucky first 18,000 fans. I highly doubt "mayhem" would have broken out if this delivery had been late.

The seeds might have been an attempt at a hopeful metaphor when so many of the Yankees' best players were injured at the start of the season. "It's like the Yankees are saying to their fans, 'Here, take care of this and enjoy the final product a few weeks from now,'" wrote Samer Kalaf at USA Today. As we know now, though, those seeds never fully sprouted for the Yankees.

4. Mike Trout fish hats at Angels Stadium of Anaheim

In theory, this is a fantastic giveaway. Who doesn't love free baseball caps, and who doesn't love a pun on a popular ballplayer's name (Pablo Sandoval fans know what I'm talking about). Somewhere along the way to giveaway perfection this season, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made an awkward turn and decided to make Mike Trout fish hats, replete with an open-mouthed foam trout popping out over the visor. Apparently, these are actually popular and people even spend real money on them when they aren't being given away — but we're assuming that's because Colin Cowgill hats would be even worse.

3. Zim Bear night at Tropicana Field

Don Zimmer has enjoyed one of the longest and most colorful careers in baseball, so it makes sense that the Tampa Bay Rays would want to honor their senior baseball adviser. However, plastering his semi-annoyed, giant face onto a teddy bear with an abnormally small body in 2012 is probably not the first way to go. This is by far the creepiest giveaway, but I have to admit that anything with the charmingly stout and grandfatherly Zimmer is pretty adorable (even when he's charging at Pedro Martinez). Perhaps because the Zim Bears are so…. something…. they were actually wildly successful and started selling on Ebay for $25 a pop. As a result, the Rays added another Zim Bear giveaway later that season.

2. Coco Crisp Chia Pet giveaway at the O.co. Coliseum

Chia Pets are weird enough as a concept (oh yes, groom fur-esque sprouts into the pet your parents didn't trust you enough to care for). However, they get infinitely stranger when you bring in real people, like Oakland A's centerfield Coco Crisp. Of course, his name lends himself to better giveaways than Mike Trout's — but ones with chocolate or cereal could have produced far more delicious and commonsensical results. To be fair, Crisp's Afro is awesomely fitting for a Chia Pet, but we're still not sure why someone would willingly pay $25 for it on Craigslist.

1. Ten cent beer night at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium

Costing a dime technically excludes this from a giveaway night, but even in 1974, 10 cents for a beer was basically giving it away for free. Someone in the Cleveland Indians front office presumably thought it was a fantastic idea to give 25,000 people essentially complimentary booze to come watch the Indians take on the Texas Rangers. Perhaps not the weirdest giveaway, this was by far the most ill-conceived, especially since the Indians and Rangers had actually fought when they played a week earlier. Did we mention fans could purchase up to six cups at a time?

Result: Some fans showed up with fireworks; in the second inning, a woman jumped the first base wall and flashed her breasts; in the fourth inning, an entirely naked man slid into second base; in the ninth inning, an actual riot broke out and fans attacked players with fists, bottles, pieces of stadium seats, and even hot dogs. Unsurprisingly, the game was ultimately forfeited. "This is why we can't have nice things" became the motto of the Cleveland Indians.

 
Emily Shire is chief researcher for The Week magazine. She has written about pop culture, religion, and women and gender issues at publications including Slate, The Forward, and Jewcy.

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