Disclaimer: I've pitched. Yes baseball. Not all women who say they've pitched are talking about softball. Granted, I'm glad there was no Statcast around any of the times I've pitched and my curveball might move a few inches on a good day, but this show probably hits a little bit more home to me. A couple years ago I even played on the same field as the Rockford Peaches and on another day played in an old run-down minor league stadium where the likes of Adam Dunn once laced up their cleats. That's about as close to playing professional baseball as I would ever be in my career, and besides - Jered Weaver's changeup probably makes my fastball look like an Eephus pitch. Needless to say, being a female baseball player and living in San Diego (and going to tons of Padres games), made me pretty excited to see this show.
The question might be - should you see it?
The Answer is: yes.
If you take this show for a fun drama/comedy that happens to revolve around baseball, then you will enjoy it. If you watch it while picking apart the reality of women even making it to major league baseball, then perhaps the show is not for you. It's also not for you if you are looking for a 100% accurate depiction of baseball. They need drama after all, and cool effects for the camera so sure, some liberties are taken.
Pitch has some good doses of baseball reality and is filmed an actual baseball stadium (Petco Park) so that helps make it extra cool. When was the last time you saw a baseball tv show or movie filming in a current major league stadium with that team predominately on display? Yea, I thought so. In this case, Pitch got cooperation from Major League Baseball to help with the realism in the show and that is pretty great.
Kylie Bunbury does a fine job in the starting role. She's tough yet feminine. She can cry but also give you a verbal kick in the ass if it's needed. She comes form a highly athletic background (so says co-star Mark-Paul Gosselaar who was on MLB Radio yesterday), and they practice hours a day when they are not filming, working on pitch delivery, framing, and other aspects of the game to help make it more realistic. Gosselaar even said they have doubles available to them but they made an agreement to try not to use them at all (or as little as possible). Speaking of Gosselaar, he plays catcher Mike Lawson who has the most interaction with Bunbury's character Ginny Baker. Notice the name Baker? The film also makes efforts to pull real baseball names into the film like McCutchen (not Andrew), who is the first batter Ginny faces in her major league career.
Gosselar is a bit of the comic relief in this duo with Ginny being pretty hard-nosed throughout the pilot. She's tough. She has to be tough. You won't make it to the big leagues by not being tough - especially if you are woman who's heard your entire life that you can't do it. Gosselar has some cheesy, yet funny, lines like "you can't aim your pitches when you're aiming to please everyone.", which he followed up with "see I really could be in movies.".
Pitch has some great surrounding characters who are stereo-types yet well cast in the likes of Bill Baker - the tough dad who pushes her and doesn't smile, Oscar Arguella - the suit-wearing and clean looking general manager, Frank Reid - the eccentric and bald Padres owner, and Al Luongo - the overweight and grumpy team manager.
The show is not a perfectly accurate depiction of major league baseball (Ginny's agent would not get away with talking to people the way she does), but it is entertaining and light hearted. In the end, the show is filled with some light hearted humor, the right amounts of drama, and a whole lot of baseball talk and action. Personally, this show comes off to me as more an underdog story (and not just a show to debate if women should play pro baseball). Inspiring others to overcome the odds and chase your dreams no matter what they are - what's not to like about that?
NOTE: IF you don't want spoilers, don't read further. Below is my semi-live commentary of the show as it happened. You have been warned. SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Are you still reading? I said there are spoilers ahead. Don't read below if you don't want spoilers.
Okay let's go:
Pitch opens with Ginny in her hotel room. The first shot you see of her is that of her legs. Really FOX? Okay, maybe it's to show she's athletic, but it's also a very typical scene for a female in TV and movies.
Ginny has an amazing room with a view. If anyone is wondering, she's staying at the Omni Hotel which is across the street from Petco Park and even has a sky bridge that directly connects it. Pretty cool! For the sake of authenticity, this IS the hotel that ballplayers usually stay in when playing in San Diego.
There are about 500 nectarines her Ginny's room. She love them. We don't know why, but I'm sure it will matter later. Stay tuned.
A secret service type escort meets Ginny and escorts her from her room. Do all minor league players get this treatment when they get called up? If they didn't want to treat her special, I think they got off on the wrong foot. Check that ear piece - who's talking to that dude in there?
I've always wondered if there is a tunnel from the hotel to the stadium. I'll have to check my sources. Ginny was going to go through the lobby but her handlers thought better of it and walked her to the garage and into a car. Much more dramatic when they can pull back and show the shout outside the stadium and her pulling up and all the surroundding fans screaming. But seriously - is there a player tunnel??
Oh here's Matt Vasgersian. You can't get away from this dude - especially since he works for Fox. Whenever I hear his voice though I think of MLB The Show on Playstation - which is a cool game if you haven't played it.
Ginny still hasn't talked but in the ride over manages to shut down some Asian social media expert without saying a word. Her tough Agent Amelia just smiles.
Guess what her first words were? "I've been ready for this my whole life" - after being asked "Are you ready for this?" by Amelia. Not my choice for her first words, but let's go with it, even if it's a bit cheesy.
First flashback time! I knew these were coming. In this one Ginny's dad Bill is trying to play ball with Ginny's brother and he's not having it. Ginny steps in and throws the ball way over her dad's head. His first thought was probably "girls can throw??"
Ginny is inside Petco Park now and meets the GM for the first time. Seriously Oscar - you signed the first ever female baseball player and you haven't met her yet? Oh here comes the little dude bald owner Frank. Of course he hasn't met her yet either. Let's leave that one alone for now.
The first zingers from Ginny come as Frank says people are glad to have her there to which she replied "no they aren't. 75% of my teammates probably think I'm the next San Diego Chicken". Points for the San Diego Chicken reference. I miss him.
Now we are in the Padres locker room. The dudes are not happy to see her except for Blip Sanders who apparently played minor league ball with her in San Antonio (Padres AA team is actually there). It's a nice locker room, I took a tour of it once but with a bunch of fans, not other baseball players. They walk her off to her own special space. Waiting for her there is a jersey with the number 43 "one up from Jackie" Frank says. "We thought that was appropriate". It brought a little tear to my eye. I'm not gonna lie. Just her seeing her jersey for the first time was a nice sappy moment.
Amelia and Ginny have a chat with the manager. Amelia tells him he hasn't heard of her because she doesn't have clients "who are 500 managers with a man boobs." I think they'll get along just fine - right?
Catcher Mike Lawson has some words with Ginny on the field and tells her she is the second prettiest player he's ever played with. The first? Dicaprio during a charity game. Poor Leo though. Ginny asks a bit later - "young or old Leo". Mike says "Young" and Ginny says, "I can see that. Young Leo is probably prettier than me but old Leo looks like a fish." So I guess she can crack jokes too and isn't all about the serious. Nice.
The show is building pressure. Oh oh. She sees all the little girls excited to get autographs. All the signs. Players bad mouthing her in the locker room that she hears through the walls. This isn't going to end well.
Okay. Something might be wrong with my eyes. Ginny just finished warming up in the bullpen and walked out onto the field to see the entire stadium packed and everyone cheering. Did I just cut an onion?
More flashback stuff. Boys don't want her to play. Oh wait! Nectarines! Her dad says she needs a secret weapon to complete with the boys and teaches her how to practice on nectarines. So there we go. Thanks for coming back to that writers. I thought she just had a huge appreciation for citrus fruit.
Ginny's first game is against the Dodgers. Division rival. Nice touch. Oh oh. She can't throw strikes. Not even one? This is getting painful. Even Joe Buck and John Smoltz say so. 10 straight balls and she's out of the game. Despite a flashback about her dad showing her how to throw a strike when she really needed to. She basically caved and the pressure was too much. Tears flowing down her face. Bummer.
After the game, her ride apparently wanted to take the long way around the stadium. The hotel is just across the street but it loses the effect of seeing the stadium in the background as she mopes back to her hotel. It's a pretty stadium though so I guess it's no big deal.
She's back in her room and her dad shows up. Oh boy. He ain't gonna take crap from her and he doesn't. "Where's your glove!" She says it's all his fault and his dream and he pushed her to be something she was not. Yet here we are in the next scene at the stadium and she's thrown him like a 100 balls. He's working her. Never give up.
The owner and the GM show up in the manager's office. That's not normally a good sign. They tell Al he can't send Ginny down because basically they don't want to look like they are screwups by calling her up. Give her one more start they insist. Also, if he didn't the show would be over 3/4 through the first episode.
Some chick show up at Ginny's room. She's on a mission. She tells Ginny to turn off the TV and stop watching the sports news because she might as well "pound her face with a hammer". Oh - it's Blip's wife! They probably know each other from the AA days in San Antonio. Meanwhile Blip is in a bar with Mike. Nice little back and forth scene of the apparent power couple convincing each of them to make it work Power couple to the rescue!
We have another flashback and this time it's Ginny success after she leads her team to the state championships. Afterwards, her dad is not impressed. She says "we did it". Her dad says "We ain't done nothing yet." Then a Padres scout shows up and wants to talk to her. It begins...
Ginny gets her second start and it's against the Giants. She starts off with a few balls. Seriously. This again?? Come on writers! Oh - they had to do it so Mike could come out from behind the plate and pump her up with comedy. Mike tells her she's being repetitive, that he's tired of his long walks to the backstop to pick up her balls and drops some wisdom on her that he's so proud of he does a virtual mic drop on his way back to the plate. Most of all, he tell her to do it for herself. For her team. Rah, rah, rah!
Apparently it worked and Ginny is dealing. A pretty cool version of Sympathy for the Devil starts playing sung by some unknown female and eventually we see a super cool (and probably obligatory) super slo-mo shot of her throwing a screwball and fanning a big hitter in a key moment. Ahhh baseball...
It's the 7th inning which is pretty late for a first start isn't it? Apparently Ginny made it 6 and a third innings which is not too shabby. Her pitch count must have been low. I mean, am I right??
My eyes are acting up again as she walks off the mound, tips her cap and enjoys the moment amidst all the camera flashes. Sappy sap sap.
Of course this Tommy Miller dick has to ruin this post game moment when he tells her 29 other teams are figuring out her trick pitch right now and she'll be done soon and he'll have his job back. Can't let the joy last too long, can we? What a sore loser. Tommy Miller is probably like The Freak this season - hoping to relieve his former glory but just falling flat. Too soon?
Another flashback to her dad talking to him while driving. They met with the scout and she says again "We did it pop". There is car crash and bad stuff happens but I don't know what. They don't' show and her dad is still alive. I guess we'll find out later.
In the final scene Ginny and her dad are standing on the field at Petco. She smiles and he smiles. Wait. So maybe his facial muscles weren't paralyzed in that car crash. There goes my leading theory. She says again "We did it pop." Even though he's smiling (progress right?), he says "We ain't done nothing yet". The show ends with a close up on Ginny, looking proud.