I realize that some of you beautiful people out there may have your H2H Championship this week, and I don’t want to leave any of you hanging!  If you have read this article all season long, you know that you should always play your studs!  Don’t get too cute, they have gotten you this far.  This is designed to give you that competitive edge that feels like cheating but isn’t!  It’s the first time a Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contestant introduced a glass of water to dip the bun.  Dip those buns, Razzballers!  (Welcome new readers who googled Nathan’s Buns.  Sorry, it didn’t produce what you were looking for.  You can find those pics on page 11).  

Welcome back from Page 11.  Now let’s turn our focus to your Championship Week!  I would love to see everyone’s championship score!  Screenshot it to me @natemarcum on Twitter.  I will enter all winners into a drawing for a nice little prize!

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Hey there!  Do you look familiar?  I recognize you from reading this article over the past 20+ weeks.  While this may be the end, let’s ensure it ends on a high note!  While many will be happy just to have made it to the finals, our goal is to hoist that trophy…or cash those checks.  Whatever it may be that is your driving motivation.  Let’s take it one step further, do you have any clue who Ken Rosewall is?  Didn’t think so.  What about Raymond Poulidor?  The correct answer to that is “WHO?”.  How about an easier one?  Have you heard of Jim Kelly?  Yes?  Perfect!  So what do those names all have in common?  Ken Rosewall was a historic loser of the Wimbledon finals!  How about Raymond Poulidor?  His nickname was “The Eternal Second” due to his countless 2nd place finishes in the Tour de France.  And finally, Jim Kelly.  Yes, most of us old-timers know him from his historic 4 Super Bowl losses with the Buffalo Bills.  

Ultimately, what has the paragraph above taught us?  Finishing second is an easy way to be forgotten.  To quote the great Ricky Bobby, “If you ain’t first, you’re last!”  Now let’s Get Ahead In Head To Head and win that ‘ship!

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Congratulations!  If you are reading this, you fall into three categories.  1.  You had a BYE, and this is your first week.  2.  You won last week with the suggestions of Razzball. 3.  Hi Mom…thanks for reading again.   Regardless of your reasoning, you are because you have some trust in the process.  I hope that I have guided you through some murky waters, around treacherous falls, and into safe pastures.  This game isn’t all too tough.  We simply have to utilize a process, identify some advantageous matchups, and have more luck than the person we are playing.  No need to dredge on, let’s get to Round 2!

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We have gotten here, everyone!  That is, assuming you are in the playoffs of your H2H league.  If you are reading this and didn’t make the Playoffs, you are my hero for still checking out this article.  For 20+ weeks, we have talked about strategy weekly, and nothing has changed since the playoffs are here.  If you have a stud, you should start them.  While there could be a case for a marginals stud in Atlanta who only has 5 games, don’t overthink it!  You are not sitting Acuna or Reilly, no matter what.  What we should be doing is looking at the week-by-week rotations and trying to get the most ABs possible.  This may be common knowledge, but there are a few additional “tricks of the trade” that could help you…

If you have a BYE, start looking ahead to next week’s matchups while your opponents are hyper-focused on this week.  For instance, the Reds have 9 games.  CLE, MIA, PITT, and TB all have 8 games.  
Check the IL reports and see if anyone is coming off early.  
Look at your potential opponents’ strengths or weaknesses (categorical H2H), and make sure to take advantage
See if you can forecast the upcoming 2-start pitchers.  The early bird gets the worm. 

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In most H2H leagues, this is the final week of the regular season.  I reflect on this week as I have watched Pujols and Molina make their final journey around the MLB before they leave for good.  Well, as far as we know!  Pujols has gone on record that even if he doesn’t get to 700, he will retire.  I believe that about as much as I believed he was 19 when he joined the Cardinals.  I think it would be an awesome situation to watch Albert come back next year (if he doesn’t get 700 this year) and have all of America watching his every AB in hopes of 700.  Then again, the swan song for Pujols and Molina hasn’t exactly been one that I had imagined.  I can remember when Mariano Rivera was retiring, he was getting rocking chairs made of broken bats, gold records, and terrifying sand sculptures.   Derek Jeter received a ticker tape parade with every stadium he visited, and yet Pujols and Molina pale in comparison.  Sure, Molina doesn’t deserve the send-off that Jeter or Mo had gotten, but Pujols deserves so much more than what he has gotten.  Hell, the Red Sox and the Cubs gave him the same gift, the #5 from their scoreboards. 

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It feels like only yesterday that we were beginning this Head-to-Head journey together, and magically we are entering the final weeks of the regular season.  With only a few more weeks left until the playoffs start, the wins become ever so important.  I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention again that the fantasy football season has crept upon us, leaving, on average, 25% of the league’s cellar dwellers empty.  There are those teams that are still competitive, despite their poor standings, but the odds are greatly reduced.  This is also the time of year when I trim my roster.  Here are a couple of “end-of-season” tricks that I use in preparation for the playoffs.

Trim your roster.  If you have players who are just “certain” they will come out of hibernation.  It’s time to cut bait, it’s nearing September.  I’m looking at you, J.D. Martinez.
Check waivers for returning players.  Not all leagues have IL spots (leave that league if so).   Ozzie Albies, Bryce Harper, Mike Soroka, Manny Margot
Rotating spot among staff.  I always leave at least one spot available among my pitchers to have a stream-worthy option.
Sunday night waiver dump.    If you have limited roster moves per week, use the remaining moves on Sunday night for the week ahead. 

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The trade deadline came and went in a blaze of glory.  As a lifelong Cardinals, the rumors and conversations about trading for Juan Soto had me feeling like I was living on a prayer.  In true Cardinals’ fashion, they would ultimately lose out on acquiring the 23 year old, generational talent, to the Padres.  If we find out that it truly came down to not wanting to give up Dylan Carlson, it will leave a bad taste in my mouth like bad medicine does.  While it wasn’t just Juan Soto, there were plenty of big names that had to learn new zip codes.  Josh Hader was the first big name to pack his bags, as he joined Soto in San Diego.  The Yankees brought in Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino, and shipped Jordan Montgomery on two separate deals.  If the Cardinal faithful is upset over losing Harrison Bader, just know that I’ll be there for you, JOMO!  If our friend CoolWhip didn’t have it bad enough with his Angels, they up and ship Raisel Iglesias to the Braves, to which I felt shot through the heart, since he was a staple on a lot of my fantasy teams.  While these are just a few of the big names, there are cascading effects across the league as a result of the movement.  Maybe there are a few players that will see some increased playing time or go to a more advantageous environment?  Let’s see if there are any name that might help you Get Ahead In Head To Head For Week 16.  

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The calendar has turned another page as we enter August.  With August comes the impending trade deadline, which is most definitely going to bring about a ton of change.  Landing spots will dictate a lot of waivers, and FAAB decisions.  Of course, as I write this, a lot can change once the flood gates open.  Speaking of floods, I am sorry this is a little late in release, but St. Louis has been crushed with rain and has suffered some flooding.  Nothing that a Juan Soto signing can’t help.  (I truly am sorry for the affected by the floods and realize that it truly won’t help)

It should also be noted that with each passing week, more and more of your league-mates will be turning their attention to the NFL.  Of course, if you are capable of doing both, I highly encourage you to check out Razzball’s football coverage, which you can find here.  So let’s take another deep look as we prepare to Get Ahead In Head To Head For Week 15!

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If I was ever looking to control a key demographic of our articles, I believe the headline just reeled in all 16 of you!  For those of you that don’t have a clue what Saved By the Bell was a teen sitcom based around a group of high school friends.  These friends shared countless stories of heartbreak and humor and ultimately led to some amazing careers post recording.  The teen heart throb, Zach, has gone on to star in countless hits like Dead Man on Campus and Saved By the Bell: Hawaiian Style.  His love interest, Kelly Kapowski, was the first crush that many of us 40 year olds had growing up!  Vying for the love of Kelly opposite Zach was A.C. Slater.  A.C. was always cool, had some sick dance moves, and has led off for the Giants in his last 3 appearances vs LHP.  Oh wait, divergent stories!  

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Happy 4th of July to Everyone!  It is the nations’ Independence Day, but more importatnly, it is the day I risk my digits for 500 grams of gundpowder magic!  Each year myself and a host of others gather at my house and compete in the neighborhood firework contest (there is no actual contest, just a local bragging rights of sort).  I guess the actual prize is that of no injury!  If you are keeping score, I do have whistlin’ bungholes, spleen splitters, whisker biscuits, honkey lighters, hoosker doos, hoosker don’ts, cherry bombs, nipsy daisers, with or without the scooter stick, and one single whistlin’ kitty chaser!  For all the “your pet hates them and subsequently hates you”, I am aware.  My precious Zoey is kept safe and happy away from all the chaos.  

With the holiday upon us, there is always the chance that your leaguemates will get lost in libations and/or just forget that there are some quality plays this week that will Get You Ahead In Head To Head.  Here they are!

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It’s time for another rousing edition of Getting Ahead In Head To Head.  As we enter the dog days of Summer, it’s really time to grind out those wins and stay ahead of the competition.  Side note—Why do they call them the “dog days of summer”.  I am rather partial to dogs and find them to be comforting and kind.  There is nothing about the 99-degree days with 70% humidity in St. Louis that I find neither comforting nor kind.  On a positive note with the MLB, it does appear that with the rise in temperature, there is also a rise in the offense.  Batting averages are up nearly .20 points since April and there were roughly 1200 more runs scored in May than in Mar/Apr combined.  

So what does this have to do with head-to-head baseball? Not really anything, but it shows that attention to offense is paramount.  Use this time to make sure that you put the best players in a situation to succeed. Yes, I know that this is pretty generic information, but I can speak out of personal experience.  I have had Myles Straw in my lineup way too much and should have heeded my own advice.  While I am not saying to bench your studs because they have a tough matchup, but there are times when a “gut” call is necessary.  Let me be the rumble in your stomach and play the role of your “gut”.  But if you happened to have Taco Bell last night, that isn’t me talking, get to the bathroom!

Without further ado, let’s Get Ahead In Head To Head, Week 11 edition!

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