Lima Time No More

There’s no worse way of receiving some bad news than awakening to it. How can you ever prepare yourself for the shocking news that one of the most charismatic pitchers of all time has died? You can’t — you just have to accept the harsh reality. Baseball lost a good man on Sunday when Jose Lima was found dead in his Los Angeles home at 37-years-old. The report is that he died of a massive heart attack which doesn’t sound right for a guy so young.

Lima Time was one of the most entertaining pitchers we’ve seen. He fit right up there with eccentric figures on the mound like Mark Fidryich and Turk Wendell. Every time he got to start it was “Lima Time” and when he did well he would make you “Believe it!” He had one of the most up-and-down careers as a pitcher, oscillating from the high of winning 21 games for the Astros in ’99 to going 7-16 with a 6.65 ERA the following year. He could pitch like an All-Star at times and then become the worst starter in baseball at others.

I don’t have too much personal experience with Major League players but I did have the pleasure of interacting with Lima on a few occasions in 2004. 2004 was the year Lima Time lit up Los Angeles, going 13-5 in what was his third best of 13 career big league seasons, a year I happened to work for the team in their P.R. department. Dodger fans loved Lima because he pitched well and entertained us both on the mound and off of it. He famously sang the National Anthem prior to a game, danced around the clubhouse showing off his salsa moves, and he gave excellent interviews. Lima was a fan favorite and loved being in the spotlight. He was always jovial, smiling, and making sure everyone around him was enjoying themselves too. If memory serves me correctly, Lima also had a lizard in the clubhouse that served as the team’s lucky mascot at the time and it may have even been named after him. He was quite a character.

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Lima Time for the Camden Riversharks

Last we had heard about Jose Lima, he couldn’t cut it in the Korean league. Either that, or he was too busy scouting the talent in the stands instead. Well somehow Mr. Lima has made it back to the States and he’s now playing independent ball in the Atlantic League. No surprise that the Camden Riversharks of New Jersey wasted no time in pimping Lima Time shirts.

Yes, I found this out when T.J. Simers went on a completely tangential rant about Lima being the last exciting Dodger playoff performer. I don’t get his rants some of the time, but he is a funny dude. And pretty much anytime you can get Jose Lima in the news works for me. For the record, Lima’s not completely slumming it — Ben Davis and Felix Rodriguez are two other former big leaguers also on the team. Though I’m not sure how the Ravens feel about Joe Flacco doubling as Camden’s bullpen catcher in his spare time.

Korea’s Had Enough of Lima Time

Honestly, when I first saw this story, my initial thought was: Korea has a professional baseball league? Well, apparently they do, considering Jose Lima signed with them and had been playing there. But sadly I must pass along the tragic news that Jose Lima’s run with the Kia Tigers has come to an end. Lima’s squad was only 4-11 on the year and he wasn’t performing too well. According to the East Windup Chronicle — they must be able to read Korean — Lima Time was rocked for eight runs over three and two-thirds in his most recent start. Sounds pretty familiar to me.

If I know anything about Lima Time though, he’ll resurface in the Mexican League and become the first 25-game winner in their league’s history. Then the Rays will try to sign him to a minor-league contract where he’ll beat the Red Sox and Yanks in the same week, go on to win 10 games, and then suck again the following Spring Training. He’s just that sort of dude. So get this: Jeff Weaver signs a minor league deal with the Brewers after being unemployed, Chan Ho Park is back with the Dodgers, Hideo Nomo is in the Royals bullpen, and Odalis Perez is the ace of the Nationals. Yes, that’s 4/5 of the rotation that helped the Dodgers win 93 games and reach the playoffs in ’04 (swap out Chan Ho for Kaz Ishii). And Lima? The only pitcher to win a playoff game for the Dodgers since ’88. Bet that oughta earn you a drink at a bar.

(Story via Ballhype)

Linkage: Lima Time Is Back!

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