There are very few big leaguers who are known for expressing just how much fun they’re having on the diamond while performing at a high level.
Jose Lima, for better or worse, wore his heart on his sleeve. In 1999 Lima finished 4th in NL Cy Young votes posting a 21-10 record for the Houston Astros. At the end of the day, many will look to that season as his legacy.
To me, it was the fact that he knew he was getting paid to play a game, and he tried to make everybody around him feel the same way. He was competitive yes, but he had fun in the face of competition.
Several Phillies & Mets will attend services for Lima in Queens. Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo, Alex Cora, Fernando Tatis and Johan Santana are all reportedly going to attend services for Lima.
I always hope that in life we can learn something when we lose a friend. When I think back to Jose Lima’s antics on the field, and his clubhouse nature, and the fact that despite his “showmanship,” he went out and won 21 games in 1999.
I think about all of that, and it makes me hope that somebody like Jose Reyes gets back to playing this game, as though he loved it. Reyes was the personality of the Mets, and then certain people on opposing teams, or the media tried to bring his spirit down.
If Reyes could reflect on the memory of Jose Lima in uniform, he’d realize they had one thing in common up until recently. They both were known for having fun while playing. Reyes was at his best when he performed with a smile on his face, and when he didn’t have to worry about what somebody else would think if he showed a little enthusiasm in the dugout. Lima didn’t care what the critics thought; he was going to be himself, for better or for worse. A lesson I think we can all take and use in our everyday lives.
Taken from an ESPN column about Lima, Johan Santana pretty much summed up Lima’s career in one quote.
“I met him when both of us were with the Houston Astros. Even though Lima was in the Major Leagues, he would visit the minor leagues on his days off and sing to us, a gesture that those who were there have never forgotten,” said Santana.