August 31, 1997.
I remember the day Princess Diana died so well.
Not so much because of the passing of the Princess, but because that day also marked the opening of the NFL Season that year, a season in which I drafted the great Jerry Rice for the very first time over his 12 years of play.
It is so vivid because Cathy and I had planned on taking our dog Macaroni down the coast to play in the Pacific Ocean, for it was a Labor Day Weekend, and Sunday was sort of up for grabs.
I say sort of because it was pretty clear I was going to listen to football no matter where we were going, so, we piled into our Pathfinder and took off. Since the Niners are indeed local, I flipped the game on to see how my star player was doing, and got there just in time to hear that Rice tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee on a reverse play.
Between 1985 and 2003, there was only one season in which Rice did not play in all 16 games, and that was 1997. Needless to say, that was pretty much my season. Even if I could have salvaged it somehow--and, I am sure I tried hard to make the best moves I could--that injury took all the hope and speculation out of the year.
Since I am a big Ervin Santana fan, and especially since he is undervalued in my opinion, I own Erv in several leagues. He was my #1 draft pick (a ninth-rounder in a 24-team set-up where we freeze eight) in my Scoresheet League. I traded for him in my Strat-O-Matic League, and I got the new Twins righty for just $10 in Tout Wars as a #4 starter behind Chris Archer ($17), Yordano Ventura ($16) and Chris Tillman ($14).
Obviously, "was" is a key word, as we all know that Santana was suspended for 80 games before the first pitch of 2015 was completely reasoned out.
In Scoresheet, I planned enough ahead, picking up Kendall Graveman as a sixth starter, so I plugged him in and put Ervin on my reserve list, and in Strat-O-Matic, I will worry about how to fill the innings missed next year because Strat is based upon the numbers of the previous season (that means Jed Latkin, to whom I traded Matt Harvey, has to wait till next year).
In Tout, I did buy the cheap ($2) services of Marco Estrada, who can help a little, but not like a regular 200-inning pitcher who strikes batters out.
In fact, Santana has 41 career starts over the month of April, with a 17-14, 3.90 mark to go with a 1.216 WHIP and 214 strikeouts over 165.6 innings.
As it stands, my Tout team is tied for fifth with eight wins, has a seventh place 4.14 ERA, eighth place 1.291 WHIP and tenth place 95 strikeouts.
However, if we toss in an average Santana April over the past decade he has played, we would get a couple of points each from wins and WHIP and ERA, but with 21 whiffs my team would jump into first place in that category, meaning an average Santana season would lift me from eleventh place and 53.5 points to tied for fourth with 71.5.
Of course it is early, and I am sitting on Santana till the All-Star Break, when we will joyously embrace Big Erv upon his return, but the question is can my team keep pace enough in the interim to realize the theoretical boost when Santana can join the rotation? How fine is the balance between success and failure in a tight and competitive league? One guy's worth?
Obviously, if my offense can keep it up, the question is will what I get from Ervin be too little too late?
For right now, it is kind of like Jerry Rice and Princess Diana all over again.
One guy. Crazy.