Ray Ratto

History says 49ers will go backward in 2012


History says 49ers will go backward in 2012

We meant to do the work. We really did. Weve known about Bill James Plexiglass Principle in baseball for years, and we knew it probably worked in other sports as well.

But we didnt do the work. Joe Fortenbaugh of the National Football Post did, and it says what we suspected. The 49ers have a far greater chance of falling backward than going forward in 2012.

And do not argue with me. The math says so. You want to start something, go argue with the number nine. Or your high school trig teacher. Were just bringing the information well, Fortenbaughs information, anyway.

Basically, it shows that over the past 10 years, teams that have gone from seven wins or fewer to 10 wins or over tend overwhelmingly to go backward in the next year, to nine wins or below. Its also called regression toward the mean, but why sound all fifth-period junior year math about it? The 49ers would be the 30th team in 11 years to make that leap, along with Detroit and Houston to make it a nice even 32.

And of the first 29, 26 went backwards in year three. Fortenbaughs proof follows:

5-11 (2003), 11-5 (2004), 8-8 (2005)
4-12 (2007), 11-5 (2008), 9-7 (2009)

7-9 (2002), 10-6 (2003), 9-7 (2004)
6-10 (2005), 13-3 (2006), 5-11 (2007)
5-11 (2007), 11-5 (2008), 9-7 (2009)

7-9 (2002), 11-5 (2003), 7-9 (2004)
7-9 (2004), 11-5 (2005), 8-8 (2006)
7-9 (2007), 12-4 (2008), 8-8 (2009)

7-9 (2009), 11-5 (2010), 8-8 (2011)

4-11-1 (2008), 10-6 (2009), 4-12 (2010)

4-12 (2006), 10-6 (2007), 4-12 (2008)

5-11 (2002), 10-6 (2003), 6-10 (2004)

Kansas City
7-9 (2004), 10-6 (2005), 9-7 (2006)
4-12 (2009), 10-6 (2010), 7-9 (2011)

1-15 (2007), 11-5 (2008), 7-9 (2009)

New Orleans
3-13 (2005), 10-6 (2006), 7-9 (2007)

New York Giants
6-10 (2004), 11-5 (2005), 8-8 (2006)

New York Jets
6-10 (2003), 10-6 (2004), 4-12 (2005)
4-12 (2005), 10-6 (2006), 4-12 (2007)

6-10 (2005), 10-6 (2006), 8-8 (2007)
Saint Louis
7-9 (2002), 12-4 (2003), 8-8 (2004)

San Diego
4-12 (2003), 12-4 (2004), 9-7 (2005)

7-9 (2002), 10-6 (2003), 9-7 (2004)

Tampa Bay
5-11 (2004), 11-5 (2005), 4-12 (2006)
3-13 (2009), 10-6 (2010), 4-12 (2011)
6-10 (2004), 10-6 (2005), 5-11 (2006)

Only three teams in that time have cheated the math. Pittsburgh went from six to 15 to 11 from 2003 to 2005, Chicago went from five to 11 to 13 wins from 2004 to 2006, and Green Bay went from six to 11 to 10 in 2008 to 2010.

So in fact, only one team went from a low base to be better in both their next two seasons those plucky 04 Bears.

What should this tell you about the 49ers? Well, that this could be a much tougher slog than you bandwagoneers think, that the wrong guys could get catastrophically injured this time, or that the turnover table could be reversed, or that more teams got better.

It doesnt mean that they stink, unless they go from 6 to 13 to 6 again. And it doesnt mean that Jim Harbaugh is some sort of fraud. It means that football success is more often about good fortune and planning than planning alone. There are very few teams that get to a high level and stay there. Its hard to do.

And it also doesnt mean that the NFC West is that much better, though it could. After all, the 49ers could have lost four more games and still won the division a year ago. They could follow the plexiglass theory to a T and still get to the postseason.

Were just telling you that the overwhelming evidence of the past tells us that the immediate future will be harder for the 49ers, and that you should prepare accordingly. After all, you can argue with plexiglass all you want, but youll look stupid doing it.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”