“Pitch” Hits a Home Run

We saw the pilot, and here’s why you should watch.

Photo via FOX

At the beginning of the Pitch pilot, Katie Nolan from FS1’s Garbage Time makes a cameo, and what she says lays out the reasons why we’re rooting for this show in the first place:

“If you want to say she’s only getting her shot because she’s a woman, go ahead, but let’s be real, if you’re saying that, you’re a man. You’re a backwards-thinking, backwards-cap-wearing, male-patterned-baldness-hiding man. So bitch and moan all you want, gentlemen, but tonight, a girl’s going to be the lead sports story in the world. And if that upsets you, well, maybe you’re just getting your period. Go get ’em, Ginny!”

Pitch (premiering Thursday, 9 p.m. on FOX) is more than wish-fulfillment; it’s something that could really happen. Just ask Mo’Ne Davis, or the kids in this video:

The idea of a woman starting in the majors is an inspirational one to many, especially, well, women. But there’s pressure with that too, as the show acknowledges: as sweet as the “We’re watching you, Ginny” signs are, it’s a reminder that Ginny Baker (played by Kylie Bunbury) is a stand-in and a role model for a whole lot of people. Out-loud doubts from teammates, theories that she’s just a gimmick to sell tickets, and slaps on the butt as if it’s a novelty? She’s used to that; she can dish out wisecracks as well as she’s learned to take them. But all those extra expectations from the wider world make her first game a disaster; afterward, Ginny’s agent, Amelia (played by Ali Larter), tries to bring up “all those little girls,” to which Ginny quickly responds: “All those little girls will have to find someone else to count on.” It takes a pep talk from Padres catcher and captain Mike Lawson (who is played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar and, by the way, has some of the most hilarious lines of the episode) for Ginny to shake off all the extra eyes and finally get her head in the game when she gets her second chance.

Now obviously, even though it would seem to be pretty nicely wrapped up when Ginny finally proves herself at the end of the pilot, the sexism issue isn’t going to just go away. Ginny now has to show the world that her bad game was the abnormality, rather than the good one. And not only that, but the pitcher she replaced, Tommy, is angling for his job back, and the comments he hurls lead to a brawl, which may then lead to a coaching shakeup; three guesses who’ll be blamed for that one, and the first two don’t count.

Though the show deals with these overarching societal issues, it also wants to be a feel-good story at the end of the day, so it can sometimes veer toward the more saccharine end of the spectrum. The last strike Ginny needs to throw is shown in slow motion, as are a few other similar moments, and there’s a two-scene indicator of a possible budding romance between Amelia and Padres general manager Oscar — right now, it feels a little forced, like it was just added in as an extra appeal to a female-centric audience, so here’s hoping that’s not its only purpose.

Like most pilots, Pitch has its bumps, but perhaps in this regard it’s suffering from the same heightened expectations Ginny is: viewers want to see so much from the show that no matter how great it is (and it is quite good), it will still have a lot to live up to. Pilots are generally all about establishing a show’s baseline, and that was certainly done successfully here. Pitch’s bones are really solid, and we have a feeling that once it settles into them (which shouldn’t take long), the show will be able to spread its wings even further — and we’re excited to see where it goes.

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