Superstitions are funny in their own neurotic way. We all have them. I, for one, must always turn my soda pop tab to the left. Why? Otherwise I will be hit by a semi or something like that. Don't question the superstition.
But baseball players take the cake when it comes to superstition, and no mojo is worse than talking about a streak while it's still alive. Any kind of streak: win streak, errorless streak, perfect game, or — in this case — hit streak. (I imagine a player wouldn't want to talk about a losing streak either, but for different reasons.)
Joe DiMaggio's fabled 56 consecutive games with a hit is almost universally accepted as the most untouchable yet tantalizing record in sports. When a man gets past the 30-game echelon, the streak usually becomes baseball news.
And the latest contestant is Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, whose current streak stands at 33 games. The headlines and puns write themselves. "Chase to 56." That's almost too easy.
Like a good superstitious ballplayer, Utley isn't talking about it, and he won't until it's over. When he hit the 32-game mark with a seeing-eye groundball over Florida Marlins' All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla in Monday night's game, he simply said, "A hit's a hit."
What's great about hit streaks is that people don't try to string together 56 straight games with a hit. That number is closer to 162 plus however many postseason games they see. Base hits help teams win games, and Utley's Phillies are 4 1/2 games behind Cincinnati for the Wild Card. That's the goal. A 57-game hit streak would simply be an auxiliary result of a pennant chase. Heh, chase. See what I did there?
So while Utley has his superstitions about his current hit streak, let's see if I can start one of my own. Since this is an article about Utley's hitting streak, I want to see if my first public thoughts on the hit streak kill it. That way, when a player in the future base knocks in 30 straight games, I will refrain from writing on it unless it's a player of whom I am not a fan and wish to unload my wrath on said athlete.
Tonight Utley faces the St. Louis Cardinals. The starting pitcher is Jeff Weaver. His ERA is a painful 6.46. Surely he'll get a hit off the struggling right-hander.
UPDATE: Chase Utley went 2-for-5 Wednesday night, getting an infield hit in the 8th and another base hit in the 9th. His hit streak is now at 34. As you all guessed many moons ago, I have no power over the paranormal.