Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pitch 1x03 Review: "Beanball" (Just One of the Guys) [Guest Poster: Jennifer Iacopelli]

Original Airdate: October 6, 2016

In its first two episodes, Pitch highlighted — and rightly so — what made Ginny Baker different from her male teammates: her gender, her pitching style, her work ethic, her journey to the majors, and her celebrity. In “Beanball,” the show makes us see what makes Ginny so much like her teammates, while still honoring those differences. She’s a young, confident, attractive, professional athlete and has the temperament implied by that description. In Pitch’s third episode, Ginny takes the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals. The last time the Padres played the Cardinals, their pitcher beaned Tommy Miller — the pitcher whose injury facilitated Ginny’s call up from the minors. For those of you unfamiliar with the litany of unwritten rules in baseball, one of the stupider rules is when a pitcher hits a batter on purpose — trust me, watch enough baseball and you can tell — it requires an answer. For reasons that go unexplained on the show, the Padres never retaliated against the Cardinals during the game Tommy was injured and thus, it’s expected of them to do so in their upcoming match up. Coincidentally enough, during Ginny’s start.

... Except everyone seems to think that’s not going to happen. Mike insists that even if she hit someone, it wouldn’t hurt them. Al just shrugs and says, “Not with Ginny pitching,” and Tommy, the clubhouse jerk, thinks she’s all talk and no action. “Don’t even think about it,” Mike warns just before the game starts.

There’s another unwritten rule explored in this episode as well, but this one belongs to Ginny and not the game. This week’s flashbacks bring us to Ginny’s stint in Double A San Antonio, where she meets Trevor Davis, an opposing catcher. Their chemistry is instantaneous, but Ginny refuses to break her own unwritten rule: she doesn’t date ballplayers. You can’t really blame her, can you? She is literally the only woman in her line of work. There are many women who have their own self-imposed “don’t date the guys at work” rule that don’t have to deal with half the crap Ginny goes though, so it’s easy enough to understand. Trevor, however, is different. He’s quitting the game and headed to college instead. So Ginny falls for smart, handsome and charming Trevor Davis, soon to be ex-ballplayer, breaking her self-imposed rule; however, that’s not something she’s willing to do on the field.

When the Cardinals pitcher steps into the box, Ginny plunks him, the umpire pops out from behind the plate to warn both teams, and thus a beanball war has begun.

What happens next is classic Pitch storytelling (at least thus far): taking what’s expected and turning it on its head. When Ginny comes up to bat, the Cardinals pitcher refuses to hit her and Ginny, being the ultra-competitive woman that she is, combined with her need to be treated just like one of the guys, loses her temper. She backs out of the box, barking at the pitcher that he’s afraid to throw at her, afraid to hurt her, and then up jumps the Cardinals catcher from behind the plate and SURPRISE! It’s Trevor Davis, the man she broke the rules for in the minor leagues and turns out, didn’t quit the game after all. Instead he was traded to the Cardinals and eventually made his way to the Major Leagues in what looks like a backup catcher role.

What started off as a truth, that he was quitting the game, turned into a lie when he found out he was being scouted by the Cardinals and the trade is a sign that he might make it to the Major Leagues. Ginny, betrayed and disappointed — mostly in herself — is left heartbroken, but now has to deal with another level of hostility from her former minor league teammates, the knowledge that she slept with a ballplayer and now feel free to throw in her face at any opportunity.

So when Ginny loses her temper, it’s not just because the Cardinals’ pitcher won’t throw at her, fulfilling one of the game’s unwritten rules, it’s because she knows that just by virtue of being herself, the usual rules don’t apply to her, again. It’s no wonder that she snaps and charges the mound, despite the fact that the Cardinals’ pitcher, aptly nicknamed the Mountain, is 6’6” and throws 98 miles per hour. Intercepted halfway there by Blip, as both dugouts empty, a standard baseball brawl ensues. Tommy, happy to get revenge on the team that broke his hand and sent him to the DL, tackles Trevor Davis and the show somehow accomplishes the impossible — making you root for that jerk to totally pummel the guy who broke Ginny’s heart. Mike heads to the mound to provide a shield for the Cardinals’ pitcher who was in a no-win situation of his own (if he hits Ginny, he hit a woman; if he doesn’t, he didn’t do his job as a ballplayer) and the rest of the players tussle a little, before order is restored, at least on the field. Tommy and Ginny are both tossed from the game and share a quick fist-bump coming off the field.

Despite the idiocy of it all, you can’t help but feel good for Ginny. She’s finally gotten what she wants the most, even if it’s just for a moment, even if she has to go back to playing by her own set of unwritten rules: she’s one of the guys.

  • I can’t get enough of Evelyn Sanders. She’s Ginny’s number one fan, her husband’s fiercest cheerleader, she knows her baseball, and Meagan Holder plays her to perfection. 
  • It was a little weird that Padres general manager Oscar Arguella didn’t know that the man who “gave him his start” in baseball, Al Luongo, spoke fluent Korean and thus spent the entire episode racing around trying to find a Korean interpreter. 
  • SPEAKING OF AL, or as I call him, “Not-Joe-Torre,” his preemptive ejection from the game, followed by the table-for-two tête-à-tête with one of the team’s co-owners in order to save his own job was sheer brilliance.
  • I’m so here for the Mike/Amelia subplot romance. I don’t think it’ll last very long. I mean really, how many secondary romances established in the second episode of a show’s run make it past the first season finale? Not many, but regardless, they’re kind of adorable. They’re both vulnerable people with hardened exteriors and right now, they’re good for each other.
  • I’m really hoping that the whole “Trevor’s phone was hacked and naked pictures of Ginny are probably headed for the internet” storyline plays out... differently? I’m not sure how they can do it, but so far Pitch has come through on putting twists on the usual tropes, so I’m hoping they can pull it off here.
  • The music continues to be AWESOME on this show, led by Black Violin providing what amounts to the show’s baseball “score.” Seriously, whoever is choosing the music deserves an Emmy.


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