The book: “Who’s On Worst? The Lousiest Players, Biggest Cheaters, Saddests Goats and Other Antiheroes in Baseball History”
The author: Filip Bondy
The pitch: Jose Lima, one of the worst pitcher of all time?
That doesn’t jibe with the “Lima Time” we remember.
Yet Bondy has tagged the one-time Dodgers pitcher on his Top 10 dubious lists of the “worst pitchers of all time,” coming in at No. 4 behind Herm Wehmeier, Todd Van Poppel and someone named Crazy Schmit (aka: the worst pitcher on the worst team in baseball).
It’s worth reviewing the legacy of Lima, just to be sure there’s no hard feelings somewhere.
Lima’s best year, no doubt, was a 21-win season for Houston in 1999, when he made the NL All-Star team.
“Then, mysteriously and swiftly, Lima lost his stuff and his clout,” writes Bondy. “There was great debate over the cause of his demise.”
He was released by Detroit during the 2002 season, saying: “If I can’t pitch on this team — the worst or second-worst team in baseball — where am I going to pitch? If I can’t start on this ballclub, I must be the worst pitcher on Earth.”
Earth to Lima: It could get better. Like in ’04, when he went 13-5 with a 4.07 ERA and pitched a five-hit shutout against St. Louis in the division series for the Dodgers.
The next year, he was so confident of his ability — the Dodgers weren’t — and he went as a free agent to Kansas City (a 5-16 mark). Then to the Mets. Then to Korea.
When he died in May, 2010 at just age 37, the legend of “Lima Time” was already cemented.
So in a nice way, it was nice to think about Lima again, even if it’s in the pages of this kind of book that takes a light-hearted look at all that’s gone wrong in big-league history.
There are plenty more Dodgers’ and Angels’ related names on other lists — how Tommy Lasorda made the list of “The Lousiest Players Turned Geniuses” along with Sparky Anderson and Walt Alston is worth digging in for the lousy truths about their attempts to play the game.
Gene Mauch, who once led the Angels to imploding after doing the same years before in Philadelphia, is No. 1 among worst managers.
Steve Sax is No. 9 on the “Worst Fielders of All Time,” just ahead of another former Dodger, Frank Howard.
As for over-paid players, the Yankees have their own list, by their own devices.
On the list of non-Yankees who were the most over-paid considering their output, the Dodgers’ Darren Dreifort is just below Jason Schmidt, whose “golden arm grew tinny for the Dodgers.” Not sure why Don Stanhouse or Dave Goltz, other Dodger free-agent pitching acquisitions from way back when, are forgotten already.
Former Dodgers Don Sutton, Kevin Gross and Wilton Guerrero are on the list of biggest cheaters.
On the “great goats” of all time, the Angels’ Donnie Moore and the Dodgers’ Willie Davis make an appearance.
The worst teammates ever? Count former Dodgers reliever Steve Howe on there, along with Jeff Kent, Manny Ramirez and Reggie Jackson.
Former Angels shortstop David Eckstein is No. 10 on the “luckiest players” of all time, for his World Series success in 2002 and then in ’06 with St. Louis. So what’s so bad about that? The guy ended up donating a kidney to his brother. How lucky was that?
Finally, in the bottom 10 of worst owners, Frank McCourt only pulled in at No. 4. Yes, there were three who merit more consideration.
It’s tough to argue with any of Bondy’s assessments. The facts speak for themselves. It’s just not often you get to enjoy so much ineptitude in one fell swoop.
More to know:
== An excerpt recently published in Bondy’s paper, the New York Daily News
== A list recently published on Grantland.com of the 15 worst contracts in the game today. Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzales, Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford and Brandon League made it.
== The 100 worst players of all time? NBCSports.com’s Hardball wants you to click through it 100 times. Skip past Eddie Gaedel. He shouldn’t count. Although, if Eckstein can make Bondy’s list …