Finally, after weeks of hard work I get a Sunday off for some fun. Take my son and a friend of his to St. Louis to see the Cardinals and Angels. We're sitting there in the infamous heat and humidity of Busch Stadium, enjoying the game when something comes across the scoreboard that made me look twice, and then a third time. Jose Lima dies of heart attack at age of 37. Lima, gone? My mind instantly started thinking about several things involving Jose.
The first was his 1999 radio appearances on the Jim Rome Show. Back then I did listen to Jim whenever possible because I thought the show was humorous. I finally quit listening when his show yielded to Entercom corporate pressure and switched stations here in KC, going from the hometown owned one to the new, large corporate owned one. Never listened to the show ever again, but that's getting off the subject. Lima Time was funny. Of course it is easy to be outgoing when you're going 16-8 and 21-10 in successive years. He was a favorite of the listeners and you could tell by the way he went about the segments with Jim that life was good in Jose's world, and a very fun place to be.
After his career cooled off some, he found himself in KC as a Royal to start the 2003 season. The Royals got off to a tremendous start that year, and Jose Lima had seemed to reinvent himself as a pitcher, getting off to a very hot start. Even when he was injured, later in the year, he was a good clubhouse presence and somehow, I still believe if he would have stayed healthy, his 8-3 record might have been 17-7 and that might have been the difference to avoid the late season swoon that cost them a 7 game division lead at the All-Star break. He was on the local sports news all the time. You would see video of him at charity golf events, a loud shirt, straw style Caribbean hat, and a big old stogie being his trademark look. Many of us in KC would have loved to see Allard Baird keep Jose, but somehow he slipped away to the Dodgers for 2004. Helped them to the playoffs and, ouch, pitched a masterpiece against the Cardinals in the playoffs to get them a long awaited playoff victory (Cards still won the series though).
Jose came back to KC for 2005. 5-16 with a near 7 ERA didn't keep him from being exuberant, at least to the fans. It was obvious that he just had lost something out on the mound though. He did eat up some innings and kept going out to the mound and kept attempting to find the stuff that used to baffle so many batters. It never came for the most part. He kind of slipped away form the mind of many Royals fans after that, until today.
Many things will be written about Jose. Some good and some will expound on his faults. Jose I'm sure had his faults and no doubt there are those who will bring those out. But this blog isn't written to do that. I write to remember happier moments. The fans screaming Lima...Lima when he brought home a victory for the home team. Thanks Jose for reminding us all that Baseball is a game, and even players should have fun. Thank you for Lima Time.