May 24, 2010
URBAN ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOMychael Urban
Former big-league pitcher Jose Lima, who died of as-yet-unspecified causes Sunday at age 37, was born about 10 years too late.He was one of a kind during his playing days, a true showman who wore his passion for the game on his sleeve. He was a heck of a pitcher for a short time, but more than anything he was a goofball, and for that he was often derided as an I guy, a look-at-me sideshow.Had he played in a previous generation, he would not have been one of a kind, and he would not have not been derided. Hed have been embraced, as were characters like Mark The Bird Fydrich or Al The Mad Hungarian Hrabosky, because he was colorful and entertaining and it was impossible to look away when he was on the mound.I didnt know Lima very well. I covered him only as a visiting player. But I made a point, whether I was planning to write about him that day or not, to be in attendance whenever he addressed the media. More often than not, Id end up writing about him that day, anyway. He was that much fun. So fun, in fact, that often Id go speak to him one-on-one without my notebook or recorder in hand for the simple pleasure of being in the company of a professional athlete who took his work seriously but not himself. Someone who respected the game but didnt demand respect on the basis of playing it at its highest level.Example: The As were in Detroit, and on a Friday night they absolutely smoked Lima, who referred to his starts as Lima Time.On Saturday, I wandered over to the Tigers clubhouse to chat him up, and during our conversation I asked him if there was anything in particular that Oakland had done to beat him.Yes and no, Papi, he told me. Yes and no. Sometimes its Lima Time. Last night, it was Oakland As Time. Thats it. Thats baseball. Thats why we love it, no?Yes. And its why I loved Jose Lima. Rest in peace, Papi..
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