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Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook -- Ty Cobb, Ted Williams and … Kara Kentner?

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 

COLOR - Jeff I wouldn’t suggest to the students or faculty members of Moraine Valley Community College that they should bow or say “I’m not worthy” when they pass sophomore volleyball player Kara Kentner in the hallway.
  But it might be appropriate.
  Earlier this month, the national junior college rankings came out and she was second in the country in hitting with a .427 hitting percentage. And she was hitting .541 in conference play as well.
  For those who don’t follow volleyball statistics, those are just numbers.
  For those who do, those are numbers that could make you want to bow or say “I’m not worthy” when you are in her presence.
  See, hitting stats in volleyball are rougher than baseball hitting numbers.
  In baseball, you get credit for a hit and no credit for an out. If you get a hit and then strike out and ground out, you are 1-for-3 and are hitting .333.

  In volleyball, you get credit for a hit. You get no credit for a ball that you hit but gets returned. It’s similar to baseball. But in volleyball, you also get penalized for a hitting error such as bashing the ball out of bounds, hitting it into the net or into a successful defensive block.
  Thus, you can hit the ball into the net, have one returned and then get the match-winning kill and be carried off the court as a hero, but your hitting percentage is .000.
  I compare these stats with baseball stats.
  In major league baseball, just 28 players have hit .400 or better and no one has done it since 1941. Legends such as Ty Cobb, Ted Williams and Joe Jackson have done it.

  But imagine if the criteria was more like volleyball…2013 vball action 6Moraine Valley Community College volleyball star Kara Kentner has an incredible hitting percentage. Submitted photo.what if each of these .400 hitters were penalized a hit every time they struck out or hit into a double play?
  Back in 1894, Boston’s Hugh Duffy set the all-time major league record for hitting with a .440 average. It’s a record that stands today and it’s unlikely that it will ever be broken unless some really wonderful miracle steroid is invented.
  He was 237-for-519. Back then, the stat of grounding into double plays was not kept but strikeouts were. He had 30. So subtracting 30 from his 237, he was 207-for-539, which is .384. That’s still pretty good, but no .400.
  For those who think volleyball stats and baseball stats are apples and oranges, let’s go with the Joe Smalzer argument.
  Smalzer is a former Marist volleyball star from Palos Heights who is now playing for Loyola. He is a 6-foot-8 hitting machine who was named first-team All-America as a junior last year. He had 430 kills in 32 matches for 11.2 kills per matchto help the Ramblers reach the NCAA Final Four.
  This kid is really good.
  But this first-team All-America stud had just a .261 hitting percentage because he made 188 hitting errors. And the Final Four Ramblers had a .291 hitting percentage at a team while opponents were held to .231.

  So if one of the best volleyball players in the nation has that low of a hitting percentage, it makes me appreciate Kentner’s accomplishments even more. The Sandburg High School graduate had 316 kills in 657 attempts and just 40 errors a few weeks ago.
  So, if anyone sees Kentner, you don’t need to bow.
  But a high-five might be in order.


Supper with the Snakes
  My favorite excerpt from a press release this week comes from out of the area, but still made me sssssssnicker:
  “October is a spook-tacular month at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum with a plentiful Halloween program schedule catering to guests of all ages. Young Frankensteins are invited to paint a pumpkin and get up close and personal with some of the ssssssslithery members of the Museum’s Living Collections for its popular dinner party, Supper with the Snakes.
  Guests are encouraged to show off their Halloween costumes while enjoying asssssscrupmptious pizza dinner. Following dinner, the Museum’s biologists will introduce the evening’s guests of honor, their slithering counterparts. Attendees will have the chance to get up close and personal with more than eight species of native and exotic snakes and enjoy a variety of sssssseriously fun activities, including a relay, scavenger hunt, crafts and more. Plus, the Museum’s newest exhibit, Animal Secrets, will be open where kids can see more of the Museum’s slithering residents.”
  The dinner is from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Museum, 2430 N Cannon Drive in Chicago. The cosssssssst is $20 for non-members and $10 for children over 3.