Chase Utley and other streaking pro athletes aren't so much in a zone as completely out of their heads.
American sports psychologist John F. Eliot says maintaining the kind of run that Utley has going at the plate means erasing everything jamming the brain's message centre, good and bad.
"It's a bit of an oxymoron to talk about being in a good mindset when it's lack of mindset that's working," said Eliot, who lectures at Rice University in Houston and wrote Overachievement. "It doesn't matter what the sport is. When you reduce the outside influences -- even the advice you've been getting since you were a kid -- and let go, you find yourself getting a feel for the ball, feel a love of the game and the camaraderie of your teammates."
Utley, the Philadelphia Phillies second basemen, singled in the first inning of last night's game against Cardinals in St. Louis and now has hit safely in 33 consecutive games. If he reaches 34, it would tie him with four other players for the 10th-longest streak.
"It's probably tougher in baseball than other sports, because you're always going to the plate evaluating outcomes, such as batting average, umpires and crowd reaction," Eliot said. "Why can't all pros get on a roll (like Utley)? That's the million-dollar question. The barriers are so big these days, with big money contracts, the fans and coaches and scouts."
Here are some record rolls in other sports:
* Most consecutive NHL games with a goal: 16, Punch Broadbent, 1921-22.
* Most consecutive NHL games with a point: 51, Wayne Gretzky, 1983-84.
* Most consecutive NBA three-point shots (no misses): 13, Brent Price, Terry Mills 1996
* Most consecutive NFL games catching a pass: 274, Jerry Rice.
* Most consecutive CFL 100-yard rushing games: 14, Mike Pringle, 1998.