PITCH was one of our most anticipated shows of the season for any number of reasons, but mostly because this is the first scripted drama series to be officially associated with Major League Baseball. The terrific premise follows Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), the first female pitcher to play for the Majors after being called up to the San Diego Padres. Co-created by Dan Fogelman (who scripted films like Crazy, Stupid, Love and Zootopia), PITCH is an important show. With a generally positive message about overcoming gender bias and proving something to a nation, it’s exactly the kind of the show the US needs going into the first Presidential election with a female candidate.
Flashing back and forth between her first game in the public eye and training under her hard-ass father (Michael Beach) over the years, the biggest issue many will have with this episode is its manipulative use of emotional triggers that are all too familiar to fans of sports movies. There’s the initial failure, the bitter taste of defeat, and the motivational moments. Less satisfying is that some of the empowerment of the episode is undercut by the only real villain being Ginny’s excess of emotions. Balancing that is the harsh reality of the forces behind the scenes, especially in the mercenary team owner Frank Reid (Bob Balaban).
Casting is pretty spot on, with Bunbury unquestionably convincing as a someone who should be in the Major Leagues. Her relationship with her father serves the emotional backbone of this pilot. Catcher Mike Lawson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is the right mix of cocky and supportive, kind of sportier Chris Pratt type. Ali Larter is formidable as Ginny’s agent, an an archetype that is similar to the forceful Hollywood agent we’ve seen elsewhere.
Director Paris Barclay (Sons of Anarchy) delivers a beautifully shot pilot that’s game-accurate and always slick looking. The (thankfully sparse) use of slow-motion is incredibly cheesy at times, and we hope that future episodes stick to real-time playback. Product placement is absolutely everywhere, but we figure this will be par of the course with a billion dollar franchise behind it. The episode’s final twist might send you back to the beginning to see if they’ve tricked you, but the tearjerker moment will be sure to have us back for Game 2 next week. The show acts as microcosm of the struggles every woman faces in a male-dominated workplace, and while the show isn’t perfect, it’s absolutely necessary.