Lima Time

added 5/23/2010 by Darrell Pittman

Jose Lima was the perfect pitcher for the cavernous Astrodome. A fly-ball pitcher in a spacious park.

After his best season, winning 21 games in 1999, he just couldn't adjust to the hitter-friendly Enron Field the next year, as it was then called. Upon seeing it for the first time, he said "Whoever designed this ballpark is not my friend." It got into his head that way, and, try though he might, he could never recover.

For a journeyman pitcher, Lima's untimely death at the age of 37 from a heart attack has gotten a lot of ink across the baseball world. Everywhere he played, his fans and teammates loved him, and that's a lot of places: Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, and Los Angeles.

I, for one, called for his head back in 2000 and 2001. And you have to admit, in those years, he just plain flat-out sucked.

Lima, however, maintained a sense of who and what he was, and went on to win fans in his many stops along the way, despite the fact that as a picther, he continued to suck.

One senses that he knew he wasn't all that good a pitcher, but he knew he entertained the fans, and in the end, that's all he cared about. He loved the fans, and they loved him back.

Perhaps in some sequestered corner of heaven, God has a place set aside for the hucksters... the Roy Hofheinzes, P.T. Barnums and Bo Belinskeys of this world, because they show us something that's true and good about ourselves, if we can only believe, just for a moment.

Jose Lima was one of those guys.

By now, God's had to allow for a higher decibel level for Lima's meringue music, since it's Lima Time as Jose parties like it's 1999, forever.

One is tempted to wish Descanza en paz ("Rest in Peace"), but he was never one to rest, much less in peace. He went dancing the night before he died.

So instead I will say merely Ave atque vale. Hail, and farewell.

Darrell Pittman is Curmudgeon-at-Large at AstrosDaily.com.