By the time Jose Lima milked the last few major league pitches from his arm, playing for my beloved New York Mets in 2006, he was a mere shadow of the all-star hurler who had baffled hitters years earlier.
But one thing Lima could still do was put on a show.
If the umpire had the audacity to call his borderline pitch a ball, Lima would throw his arms up in protest, stomp across the mound but then stop acting up just in time to avoid getting thrown out of the game for showing up the umpire.
The final curtain on Lima's roadshow came down this weekend when the 37-year-old Dominican died of a heart attack in Los Angeles. His 13-year career reached its apex, when he won 21 games for the Houston Astros in 1999.
Lima also pitched for the Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers and brought a party to every city he visited. Before taking the mound, he would dance the samba and clown with fans and teammates with a broad smile.
He called it "Lima Time."
By the time he got to the Mets, little was left on his fastball. He made just four starts and didn't win a game. Even still, before Sunday night's game with the Yankees, the Mets held a moment of silence.
At times, especially when suffering through his lost season with the Mets, it was easy to wonder if all the games and clowning had taken their toll on his many talents.
The common thought among Mets fans was that if Lima would buckle down and concentrate more on hitting the corners of the strike zone, instead of putting on his show, maybe he could win a few games.
But putting on a show WAS Lima. There was no way to separate the pitcher from the showman, and for 13 fun-filled years, major league baseball fans were along for Lima Time.