I’m so tired and bored with PITCH that even all of the emotionally fraught beats of “Scratched” did little more than make me more tired still. The main focus of the episode is all the drama surrounding the possibility that Lawson might get traded. Spoilers: he doesn’t get traded. Does that even need a spoiler warning? Nope. On top of that, there’s all sorts of implied romantic tension between Ginny and Lawson which I could appreciate if this had been billed as anything besides a breakout feminist showpiece. As it is, it’s trite. Why can’t a woman be an equal in a man’s world without being romantically involved with said men? It’s been scientifically proven that we partake of narratives so that our brain can practice for real-world scenarios. If all we ever see is the same well-worn tropes, how are we supposed to break free of those toxic storylines? I thought that was what Pitch set out to do. It continually proves to me that I presumed wrong.
It’s bordering on pointless for me to belabor all those issues again. Everything about the trade plotline is overplayed for drama, though it was better done in this episode than in the one where Ginny thought Blip might be traded. In this case, the only people concerned in the business interests of the trade were the people personally involved. This was a more realistic examination of the sort of emotions that might surround the trade of a beloved player, and nobody went storming off to the GM’s office trying to throw their weight. As for the romantic nonsense, I did appreciate Ginny going on a date with a charming tech billionaire. I’d love for her to get to explore relationship dynamics and the pressures of fame in that regard, I just would prefer it not be with her teammates. If she was in a tryst with Lawson that would instantly delegitimize her success in the eyes of the world. That said, for this show to have kept Lawson and Ginny the way I liked it the series itself would have had to keep its depth and drive towards something more nuanced than locker room soap opera. Oh well.
The thing I’ve loved most consistently about this series is the General Manager Oscar. Where everyone else wavers in their character qualities, intelligence, and understanding of baseball Oscar always nails everything about the game from the business side to the fannish devotion. Oscar’s machinations were by far the best part of this episode as he had to juggle multiple interests—personal, financial, and strategic—in a potential trade deal. I’m beginning to think that the series overall would be better if Ginny was an interesting footnote in a show that followed Oscar, but I’m fairly certain that would quickly devolve into soap operatics just like Ginny’s story did. My particular favorite part in this episode was when Oscar was shouting at the owner about how sentimental baseball fans are and how long their memories are. Do real General Managers even care about stuff like that? I doubt they do, but having Oscar be aware of the culture of baseball fandom in addition to the business side and game strategy makes me absolutely adore him. He’s like the wish fulfillment fantasy version of a GM. Everyone wants their General Manager to understand and, more importantly, honor what the team and players mean to them.
The other thing I loved was the manager’s daughter Natalie, played by Sarah Shahi. She only showed up for the first time in the last episode and was largely just a point of extra intrigue for Oscar. This episode she is the mediator between Oscar and her father, it’s revealed that she’s an excellent surgeon in her professional life, and she basically tells both of them to go screw themselves and volunteers for international medical work to go live her own life. So over the course of one episode, a minor side character became more of a feminist paragon than the actual main character that they were selling as a feminist paragon when they promoted this show. Okay. Sure. As with Oscar, I’d just as soon watch a series that follows Natalie around in this alternate universe where women play Major League Baseball than watch whatever Pitch has become. Also because, extra bonus, if that were real I’d get to watch Sarah Shahi every week.
Another point of contention for me is Ginny’s brother. I’m terrifically annoyed that he started off so supportive and caring and has been turned into a gold-digging sister swindler. Really? They couldn’t do anything else with that character? That’s the only drama they could manage was him using her for money and lying about it? I mean, at least have him be bitter about their dad paying more attention to her, or her life eating his, or a multitude of other infinitely more interesting things than a completely basic plotline about family using her for money.
Also, wait a second, there weren’t any flashbacks in this episode at all! Perhaps that’s why, despite romance nonsense and trade drama, it felt significantly stronger than most of the episodes in this series. The flashbacks were a cute device at first but they almost immediately became the place where most of the lazy storytelling tropes reared their ugly heads the fiercest. You really can’t sink lower than having the father of her best friend as the drunk driver who killed her father. There is nothing below that.
Next week is the season finale of Pitch and I’m so grateful that this will be over soon. I was so excited for this show when it started but it only lived up to its promise very briefly. Now I’m just tired. I want this to end.
Season 1, Episode 9 (S01E09)
Pitch airs Thursdays at 9PM on Fox
Dana is a digitization archivist by day and a masked pop culture avenger by night. She spreads the gospel of science fiction and fantasy wherever she goes.
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Dana Leigh Brand | Contributor