Jose Lima has been gone for two years, but he feels just as vivid as ever in memory. Lima Time won't be topped any time soon. It was special, it was one of a kind and it was highly, highly enjoyable.
Jose Lima was one of those players that you love if they play for your team and hate if they play for the other guys. Jose Valverde got a little bit of that with his mound antics, but nothing compared to Lima, who talked into his glove like a crazy person after bad pitches and merengue'd his way off the mound after big strikeouts.
Personality can make a ballplayer memorable much longer than his performance can. Guys who are flashy endear themselves to fans, especially when they do it like Lima did. He always signed autographs, he was in those hilarous Casa Ole commercials that I still sing to this day and he backed up his talk.
In 1999, Jose Lima guaranteed he'd win 20 games. He won 21 and made the All-Star team. That season, I remember chuckling with my dad when I read Lima's quotes in the notes section of that day's Chronicle. I mean, Lima wasn't even the best pitcher on that team. That'd probably be a split between Mike Hampton and Shane Reynolds, right?
And yet, it was Lima who won the games and made baseball fun while he did it.
Lima won 46 games in his Astros career and 37 of those came in 1998 and 1999. He didn't play a terribly long time with the team, nor did he win any major awards. But, I still found myself rooting for him with the Dodgers and Royals all the same. He was the first player I really followed closely after he left Houston, because Lima Time was too much fun not to check in on every now and then.
Fitting, then, that he gets a History post before Houston takes on the Dodgers this weekend.