Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

R.I.P. Jose Lima, and A Sad Coincidence

Posted by JD on May 23, 2010

Sad news: Jose Lima passed away this morning at the age of 37. From the ESPN story, it appears as if he was struggling in his sleep and died before his wife realized what happened. A sad ending for one of the more colorful characters in recent baseball history.

Lima had an up and down career. He won 37 games for the Houston Astros over 1998-99 and finished fourth in Cy Young Award balloting in 1999. It was at this time that his “Lima Time” personality came to prominence. Always demonstrative on the mound, Lima’s successes allowed him to take it to another level. The wheels came off in 2000 though, as he lead the league in earned runs allowed (145) and home runs allowed (48, two shy of the record). He was traded back to Detroit (his original team) during the 2001 season but the change of scenery didn’t help: he compiled a 91 OPS+ in 2001 and was released the following September after compiling a 55 OPS+ in 2002. He bounced around, finding a modicum of success with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004, earning that franchise’s first playoff win since 1998 with a complete game shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Lima was never again the pitcher he was in 1998-99, but that didn’t stop the Mets from signing him to a minor league contract in February, 2006. Lima started the season with the AAA Norfolk Tides but was in Flushing by May. He made three starts, giving up 14 earned runs in just 14.1 innings. Incredibly, the Mets opted to give him another chance at Norfolk, where he pitched until being recalled for a start against the Florida Marlins on July 7. He lasted just three and a third innings and gave up a grand slam to the opposing pitcher, Dontrelle Willis. I feel certain that I was there that day, though the vagaries of memory could certainly be playing tricks on me. Regardless, when he walked off the mound that day, his major league career was over.

Jose Lima tasted success, endured failure, and persevered long after we had written him off. There’s a lot to be said for that. Hopefully, he lived the life he wanted, and hopefully his family can take comfort in knowing that. Rest In Peace.

Lima’s untimely passing reminded me of his former teammate, Geremi Gonzalez. Gonzalez passed away in a freak lighting strike on May 25, 2008. Both pitchers appeared for the Mets in the 2006 season and, what’s more, they twice made back-to-back starts (May 12-13 and May 18-19). It’s shocking to me that two members of the 2006 Mets have already passed away. Another stark reminder of our mortality, I suppose, and a sad coincidence.

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One Response to “R.I.P. Jose Lima, and A Sad Coincidence”

  1. Jesus, just 37 years old. I turn 47 next weekend. Think I’ll go for a walk tomorrow.
    And what a strange coincidence regarding Geremi Gonzalez who, I hate to admit, I didn’t even know had died.
    Sad but interesting post, Bill

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