Yogi Bear, meet Zim Bear. The next big baseball-inspired marketing critter promises to be Zim Bear — picture a teddy bear in a Tampa...

Yogi Bear, meet Zim Bear.

The next big baseball-inspired marketing critter promises to be Zim Bear — picture a teddy bear in a Tampa Bay Rays jersey with Don Zimmer’s face on it — that the team will be giving away as promotional items this season in honor of the sport’s 81-year-old icon.

Next up, we assume: The WWE Pedro Bear — with Zim Bear in a headlock.

Baseball 101

Q: What does a baseball drug test and a force play at second have in common?

A: You’re given an out if someone drops the ball on the exchange.

They’ve got his number

State lawmakers in Wisconsin have declared Dec. 12 — 12-12-12, get it? — as Aaron Rodgers Day in honor of the Packers’ MVP quarterback.

Indiana officials, not to be upstaged, retroactively decreed 2-14 as Indianapolis Colts Day.


• At SportsPickle.com: “Ryan Braun feeling lucky enough to enter 2012 Tour de France.”

• At TheOnion.com: “Great team chemistry no match for great team biology.”

Pigeon coup

Police in Taiwan arrested seven people for allegedly kidnapping dozens of race pigeons — a popular pastime for gamblers there — and holding them for ransom

Unfortunately for the perps, they didn’t snatch the stool pigeon.

Good question

“A hockey quandary,” wrote Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun. “If his last name is Hainsey, what’s his nickname?”

Phil the void

It came too late for Valentine’s Day, but Mavs owner Mark Cuban says he deeply misses retired Lakers coach Phil Jackson.”He was fun to mess with,” Cuban told the L.A. Times, “knowing that he’d come right back, return volley, and I’d return volleys like a good tennis match. …

“I hope he gets back in the NBA. You don’t often find the perfect bucket boy.”

Talko time

• Ann Killion of SI.com, not impressed with the Manny Ramirez signing: “The Oakland A’s are the clown car of baseball, a small-market team crammed with weird ideas. Just when you think they’ve all emerged, another one pops out.”

• Running back Ricky Williams, via Twitter, announcing the end of his NFL career: “I did not retire, I graduated. With a degree in millionaire.”

• Rays manager Joe Maddon, to the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, on the Zim Bear: “It’s Zim — it’s cuddly, it’s warm, it’s cute. It’s something you definitely don’t want to take to bed with you.”

• CBS’s David Letterman, the reason behind actress Reese Witherspoon’s visit to the Bronx Bombers’ spring-training camp: “The Yankees are taking a look at her as a possible Alex Rodriguez girlfriend.”

Dukes a hazard

Police in Tampa, Fla., say former big-leaguer Elijah Dukes tried to eat a small cache of marijuana after they pulled him over early Thursday.

Baseball purists were stunned — that he didn’t have his foot on the bag.

Dwight Perry: 206-464-8250 or dperry@seattletimes.com