This was no petty larceny. It is one of the best homer-saving catches you will ever see.
"I've taken homers away," Gross said, "but that's the best one I can remember. They don't come around very often."
Neither do hits for Laird. Since joining the Tigers before the 2009 season, Laird has been a stabilizing influence on defense. His bat, conversely, has been meek. Laird hit .225 with a .626 OPS in '09 and went into Sunday batting .154/.235/.231. A .231 slugging percentage!
I might change my number, too. My number, my batting stance, possibly my profession. However, before giving up, one must try every plausible solution.
That's why Laird made a deal with batting coach Lloyd McClendon and went from No. 8 to No. 12, increasing his digital power by half. McClendon, not wanting any part of Laird's No. 8, now wears No. 19.
"Just changing it up," Laird said. "That's all I'm doing. Maybe my luck will change a little bit."
Laird really needed to double-up and escalate to 16. One problem with that. But first ...
I'm not sure what options Laird had in mind this time, but going back to No. 15 — a number he wore with some success for the Rangers — would have meant a trade with Brandon Inge(notes). Even if Inge had agreed, marketing would have thrown a fit. All of those expired "No. 15 Inge" T-shirt/jerseys ... shirseys ...
Laird doubling from No. 8 to No. 16 also was out. Thanks, near-Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser. And if he wanted to triple his
word number score like Kobe Bryant did by going to No. 24, Laird would have to make a deal with Miguel Cabrera(notes), one of the league's top sluggers. Not gonna happen.
Laird could have quadrupled to No. 32 by trading with Don Kelly(notes) — a guy with a name straight out of "Mad Men" — and the rookie probably could have used the extra scratch. Maybe that's next. (That's not Gross' glove, by the way.)
Hey, let's hear it for Gabe Gross! No. 18 until further notice.