Ali Larter, Kylie Bunbury / Ray Mickshaw, Fox
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At this point, Pitch is as much about how hard it is being a professional baseball player as it is about how great it is. All three of its star athletes face questions about the wreck baseball can make of their personal lives. For Mike, it’s realizing his body is failing. For Blip, it’s recognizing his own failures as a father and husband. And for Ginny, this early in her career, it’s about how much she gave up along the way to get there, sacrificing a normal adolescence and her relationship with her mother.

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That twist with her mother is so extreme, it’s almost too much. But Ginny’s eventual decision to move past it suggests a huge step for her. On some level, she’s acknowledging that her father was flawed, which we already know to be the case, but which the pilot suggested she was unable to see. Thankfully, we haven’t returned to the Ghost Dad concept, and fingers crossed, we won’t, but that doesn’t mean his shadow doesn’t loom over every decision she makes. He was a man with an obsession, and while that kind of attention is flattering for a kid craving approval, it’s also totally smothering. Ginny’s never going to be her own person until she can escape her father’s influence, and beginning the path towards forgiving her mother is an important effort. The concept that her mother never figured out what happened is a little hard to believe, though, and it almost seems cruel for Ginny to avoid explaining it now.

Mike’s demons present a different obstacle. While Ginny has years ahead of her to figure out how to navigate her career/life balance, he’s left to scramble for the pieces he has left of it. For as much as professional athletes condition their bodies up to the limits of what the human form is capable of, it takes a toll. We aren’t really designed to put ourselves through what athletes do for years. And there’s something particularly tragic about an athlete’s body telling him his time is almost up. This is one of the ways Pitch benefits from the irresistibleness of sports stories. It’s hard to screw up the wistful heartbreak of an athlete on his last stand. Mike’s trajectory here lets him both envision a life beyond baseball while clinging to however much of it he has left.

His relationship with Amelia is also working surprisingly well for a story about two characters we barely know. The only downside is that we’re losing some of Amelia’s development in favor of his. He’s the show’s other star, but if we’re going with the notion that he and Amelia are the two guiding lights of Ginny’s life, she has to have a bit more development, too. It would have been stronger if we’d gotten to see her giving Mike some pointers about appearing on TV rather than just supportive girlfriend talk—we know she’s a total shark at her job, but most of the time, we only see her work as Ginny is rejecting it.

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If only Blip’s story was resolved as perfectly as that great phone call between Ginny and Mike. The concept that his marriage to Evelyn is rock solid is fine. We don’t necessarily need to worry they’re going to split up, but too often the effort to return them to the status quo is interfering with the resolution of their stories. The end is almost sitcom-ish, and this is a drama. He faces an impossible choice between being a good dad and moving his career forward, and in the end he gets to do both and Evelyn forgives him. She’s angelic so far, which, again, is mostly fine—some people really are always trying their best for the people around them the way she is—but there’s some real pathos to be mined from how hard it is to be a baseball wife that we’re missing out on. They can have a successful marriage while also not resolving every problem by the end of the hour. Friday Night Lights mastered this, and while I would never blaspheme by comparing another marriage to that one, it’s worth pointing to as an example of a happy marriage that weathered many storms.

The Livan subplot, unfortunately, comes across as little more than an effort to shoehorn some extra drama in, as though there needed to be a cliffhanger to take us into next week. Plus, it’s another episode where Oscar is isolated away from the other characters. It makes sense that the team’s GM is not joining Ginny, Mike, and Amelia at the world’s most awkward family dinner, but incorporating him into the main cast more would make it at least seem like he’s on the same show. Why not have Oscar join in the All-Star festivities before sending him off to the Netherlands? It’s another instance of the show having way too much stuffed into one episode, when storylines like the mess surrounding the game could stand to breathe a bit more. His team was hosting the game. There was more than enough for him to do in the main story.

Post-game analysis: Stop leaving valuable players, like Amelia, on the bench, or…well, there’s not really a baseball metaphor for sending one of your players to Amsterdam, but if there was, I’d throw it in here.

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Stray observations

  • This one wasn’t exactly funny, but I did enjoy the “We need to be more careful” “I didn’t invite you” exchange at the restaurant.
  • All the jokes about Ginny having Mike’s poster on her wall are a nod to Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s teen idol years, right?
  • Legitimately did not predict the twist that the mom had been seeing that guy for years. While I think the effects of the twist worked, and the theoretical other version of this where Ginny just can’t accept that her mom is getting over her beloved dad would have been a bit cliched, it was a huge revelation to move past that quickly.
  • Didn’t get to this, but the advice Al gives Ginny about accepting the perks life throws at you was solid, and though the show didn’t dive into it, it’s the kind of thing young women sometimes need help on.

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