Will Pitch outlast its first season? In light of such disappointing ratings, Fox’s decision to air the show against Thursday Night Football seems to be backfiring. The Parents TV Council, an advocacy group normally known for wanting shows off the air, even petitioned the network to move Pitch to a new time slot so it has a better chance of survival. Let’s hope that happens: A show like this one deserves a better chance to gain an audience, especially since it continues to improve.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Mike and Amelia had sex. Their morning-after, uh, extra inning is interrupted when Ginny texts them both. Two of the most important people in Ginny’s career just hooked up; there’s no way this is going to end well. Amelia reminds Mike they need to be discreet. He’s fine with that arrangement, but doesn’t fully understand why until Amelia reveals that Ginny still carries his rookie card and used to have his poster on her wall. Mike’s ego gets a little thrill about that, even as he makes it clear he’s willing to see Amelia again.
In the clubhouse, Ginny gets a bottle of Champagne from Drake, who’s willing to send a private jet to fly her out to New York for a party. Tommy teases Ginny about the fact that she’s down to date rappers but not ball players. The locker room laughs at the good-natured ribbing between Ginny and Tommy, who seems less antagonistic now. Korean pitcher Woo-jin Kim laughs too hard and Blip teases that Woo-jin doesn’t speak English so he can’t possibly know what’s going on. Woo-jin laughs again to go with the flow.
At first, I was disappointed to see an Asian character who didn’t speak English. It seemed like a tired stereotype, an ill-conceived detail that undid forward movement in the episode. Then I thought, maybe Woo-jin speaks English but prefers to speak his native language like Japanese player Ichiro Suzuki. I decided not to give in to my knee-jerk reaction, and thankfully, the story paid off as I hoped.
Tommy is ready to come off the disabled list, which means a pitcher has to step down. Theo Falcone, a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, broke Tommy’s finger with a wild pitch and guess who the Padres are scheduled to play next? Yep, the Cardinals. Ginny wants revenge, as per the unwritten rules of baseball, but Mike wants to let the men handle it.
Ginny keeps repeating she doesn’t date ball players, and we finally see why through another series of flashbacks. Back in San Antonio, she gives catcher Trevor Davis (Shamier Anderson) a chance after he tells her he’s about to retire and go to college. He says all the right things, they start dating, and he convinces her to come to his last few games. He wants to show her off and stand proud in their relationship. Ginny gives in and suffers through some withering stares to show her support for Trevor. But suddenly, he’s pulled out of the game and later tells Ginny he’s been called up to the Cardinals. He’s not retiring after all. Ginny feels betrayed. She broke her own rules for Trevor and he took advantage of her feelings for him.
When it eventually gets out that Ginny and Trevor dated, we see some guy approach Ginny and ask for one night with her so he can make it to the big leagues, like Trevor did. Ginny keeps her cool and cracks a joke, but the crudeness breaks her heart all over again.
The combination of baseball’s superstition and sexism is flat-out gross, and it underscores the burden Ginny must bear for her love of the game. Not only does she have to push herself physically, but she also has to guard her heart and mind. At one point, she reveals she has to fend off the misogynists and the good guys who want to protect her like she’s a little girl. Ginny just wants to be a ball player, but everyone wants to make her everything else. One minute, she’s a threat; the next, she’s a damsel; after that, she’s some kind of sexual good-luck charm. It’s a testament to her strength that she hasn’t lost her mind.
Back to the game against the Cardinals. Mike tries to calm Ginny’s thirst for revenge by hitting a home run, but it’s not enough for her. She hits Falcone with a pitch, ratcheting up the tension between teams. Making matters worse, Al was already ejected during the exchange of lineup cards because an overly sensitive umpire thought he made a crack about his eyesight. Falcone threatens Ginny: “You’re next, girlfriend.” The Padres are concerned about Ginny getting hit, but she doesn’t care. She doesn’t want them protecting her, even if this is her first time in a beanball war.
To tie up the Woo-jin issue: Al may have been kicked off the field, but he certainly kept himself busy. He met with team owner Maxine Armstrong (Wendie Malick) and told her that if he’s fired, it’ll look like Ginny demanded it because of his remarks about her looks. The team, the league, and the fans will call her a coach killer. Instead, Al suggests he should finish out the season then he’ll retire. He’s smarter than he lets on, which he demonstrated when Oscar can’t find a translator to tell Woo-jin he’s no longer active. It turns out, Al knows Korean, so he gives Woo-jin the disappointing news. Oscar is shocked, and Al cautions him: “People who underestimate me tend to be surprised.” Al may be old-school, but he recognizes that Ginny knows what it’s like to be underestimated.
Meanwhile, Tommy has Ginny’s back when Mike and Buck waffle about letting her bat. When she steps up to the plate, however, Falcone isn’t on the mound anymore — he’s been replaced by Greg Mount, a.k.a. the Mountain, a giant with a 98 mph pitch who holds the record for hit batters. Surprisingly, his pitches are all wide, avoiding Ginny completely. She gets suspicious and asks the catcher if he’s asking to avoid hitting her. And yep, that’s Trevor, her old boyfriend, serving as Cardinals catcher. The Mountain walks Ginny, but she doesn’t make it to first base. Instead, she charges the mound. “What’s a girl gotta do to get beaned?” When Trevor stops her approach, all of Ginny’s past issues with him erupt. She pushes him, he pushes back, Tommy dives out of the dugout to tackle Trevor, and boom! We’ve got a huge brawl on our hands.
Blip protects Ginny from the action, but the umpires kick her and Tommy out nevertheless. The duo bump fists and strut to the locker room. Tommy may have resented Ginny when she first joined the team, but he’s seen how hard she works, and how she was willing to have his back and adhere to the code. Ginny put baseball above their beef. She’s earned his respect. Even Trevor makes amends, later apologizing for how he handled things between them. Unfortunately, he also comes with bad news: He was hacked and pictures of them were leaked. He advises Ginny to find a friend who can help her manage this newfound celebrity, and it’s clear she has Mike in mind. But first, she’ll have to let down her guard.
Mike saw Ginny talking to Trevor and wants to know more about it. He can sense Ginny is hiding something. She’s not ready to share yet, but she’s warming up to the idea. Mike admits that he’s blown away by her; she’s unlike any rookie he’s ever met. It’s a tender and vulnerable moment, and Ginny eats it up before teasing him to break the tension with some levity.
Three episodes in, Mark-Paul Gosselaar is showing some impressive chops — and it’s not just that hot beard. He’s been acting for decades, but perhaps acting alongside a talent like Kylie Bunbury has pulled out the best in him. Zack Morris may never die, but his ghost is taking a backseat to what Gosselaar has been doing in Pitch.
So, what’s next for these two? Television has taught us to look at any interaction for signs of romantic chemistry, so it’s hard to parse what’s happening between Ginny and Mike. Are they OTP or are they baseball’s Don Draper and Peggy Olson? On the one hand, it would be awesome to watch them develop a strong platonic, mentoring relationship … but on the other hand, it would be great to see a black woman character loved and cared for, intimately. Some viewers may argue that romance is too soapy for a show about a woman in baseball, but Ginny has already become a fully realized character with desires for family, friendship, career advancement, and love. Whatever the case, let’s hope Fox keeps Ginny around long enough for us to keep watching her soar.