We made it halfway through the first season before Pitch dedicated an episode to Mike, complete with flashbacks to his childhood. I'm not going to complain about this narrative device any more since it's clearly not going anywhere. Mark-Paul Gosselaar has done some great work with Mike Lawson, so I'm glad we're able to see more of it, but Ginny should be the show's top priority every week.
A quirky roster rule prevents Ginny from starting when the Padres play the Giants in San Francisco. Al assures her it has nothing to do with her behavior in Los Angeles. The team has two days off in the next 10 days, and he has to make sure his top pitcher gets a chance on the mound. Because her nude selfies are about to leak, Ginny is anous and thinks playing will help her focus her energy. Once they arrive in Al's hometown of San Francisco, he takes her to a quiet spot overlooking the city and tells her she has to learn to find a new way to be at peace. Baseball can't be her only normal. She has to find happiness without it.
That's two episodes in a row that Pitch has hinted baseball won't always be in Ginny's life. Is this a way of preparing the audience in case the show doesn't get renewed for a second season? Ginny hasn't shown much professional interest in anything else, and the only thing her childhood flashbacks presented as remote competition to baseball was the possibility of attending a school dance. What could pull Ginny away? We know that Mike has visions of becoming a sports commentator, but we've learned absolutely nothing about Ginny's interests outside of baseball. Now would be a good time to tell us more about Ginny. In the present. Without flashbacks.
Amelia tells Oscar about the nudes leak and Ginny tells Blip, who scolds her after threatening to beat up whoever caused the hack. (None of the lawyers or private investigators can find the source of the hack, though I wonder if Trevor had anything to do with the pictures getting out.) Blip tells Ginny, "You're a woman. You're supposed to be smarter," meaning she should know better. That doesn't go over well with Ginny, who reminds Blip he knows what it's like to be lonely on the road. When she asks to see the pictures in his phone, he refuses, claiming he's just got snapshots of his Yorkie wearing clothes. Sure, Blip. Between him and Oscar, we cycle through the usual double standards, but in a show of support Blip wishes he could trade places with Ginny, which gives her an idea.
Oscar wants to get in front of the potential scandal, so Ginny and Amelia give him a viable option. They suggest the entire team pose nude for ESPN's Body Issue. At first, Ginny isn't sure the guys will go for it, but they do. The team has grown to see Ginny as one of their own, so anything that hurts her will also hurt them. Photographer Tommy Garcia captures the oiled-up team in mouth-drooling poses and it's enough to dampen any potential scandal. Everyone looks amazing.
With the threat of Ginny's leak handled, Mike turns to his own drama. Every day, he feels more threatened by Livan Duerte, the young hot Cuban catcher Oscar recently recruited. Livan has no respect for the veterans on the team, thinking his flashy ways are best, and refuses to speak to the press by pretending he doesn't understand English. Mike and Livan frequently bump heads, especially when Mike thinks Livan is trying to take advantage of his troubled, immigrant background to get away with such disrespect. Mike reminds Livan everyone has had to work hard to get where they are. He's not the only one with a troubled childhood.
This is where we flashback to see Mike as the child of single mother who moved them around often. She used him to run scams on his baseball coach, Dave Grissom (Josh Randall), who turns out to be Mike's father. I wish there had been a better way to learn about Mike's past. He clearly had a difficult childhood, but it's quite a stretch to compare his experience with that of a man who tried to escape a dictatorship five times before reaching America. I'm uncomfortable with the comparison. It feels like some sort of Trauma Olympics.
What we see of the Giants game is pretty exciting, and I'd like to see more of the team in action. It makes for a good change of pace and reminds us how talented Ginny is. Al brings her in as relief, with bases loaded, and she naturally looks to Mike for guidance. However, Mike is playing first base (poorly) and Livan is the catcher. Livan looks disappointed that Ginny goes to Mike, but as captain, Mike knows how important teamwork is, so he tells her to trust her catcher. She does and Mike finally makes a good catch, leading the team to victory. Mike and Livan grudgingly give each other praise, though it's clear Livan's attitude needs more work.
Oscar talks with Livan, driving home the fact that he's a rookie who makes stupid mistakes, while also telling him to get his act together. Mike may be gone sooner than later, whether by trade, injury, or old age. If Livan wants his chance to rise on the team, he has to grow up.
As much as I wish the focus remained on Ginny in "San Francisco," Pitch would suffer without Mike in a major role. Ginny and Mike have great chemistry together, whether they become a romantic couple or not. When the team arrives back in San Diego, everyone has someone waiting for them, except Mike. The two need each other, as evident by Mike almost calling Ginny when he needed to talk. I still have no clue what will happen between them, if anything, but I hope we get another season to watch them develop as teammates and individuals.