"I was born for this, I love baseball, and remember guys, it's still Lima Time, and it's always Lima Time. You gotta believe that." -- Jose Lima, 2009 as a member of the Long Beach Armada in the independent Golden Baseball League
Much like the man behind the movement, "Lima Time" is simultaneously simple and complex. I can't define it in one or two sentences, yet I promise by the time you're done reading this, you'll know exactly what it is.
I mean, how exactly do you explain a pitcher who went from a 20-game winner and All-Star one year to the worst ERA in the majors the next? How do you process the complete disregard for the unwritten rules about "showing the other guys up" with the hundreds of players who gushed about what a great teammate Jose Lima was? Above all else, in a sports world largely bereft of guys that openly recognize who pays for the tickets that pay their salaries, why did we lose a 37-year old guy on Sunday who, in the middle of a 1-8 start in 2000, went on television and thanked the fans for their support and told them "I know you pay my bills"?
A massive heart attack robbed the world of Jose Lima early Sunday morning. The magic of YouTube and the memories of fans across every city in which he ever played, thankfully, left "Lima Time" behind.
If I can't define what "Lima Time" is in simple terms, I can certainly tell you where it started. It started in Houston in 1998 on the morning show of then-610, now-1560 duo John Granato and Lance Zierlein. One morning early in the 1998 season, Jose Lima decided to show up at the studio and do some radio with John and Lance. The definition of "Astro fan favorite" would forever be changed.
When most athletes come into studio to do radio, they stay for an hour or so, answer questions, maybe take a few calls. (Truth be told, only some of them seem to truly enjoy doing it.) Jose Lima came on with John and Lance that morning and never left. He stayed all four hours of the show, and could have gone another four if they wanted him to.
We all wanted him to. "Lima Time" was born.