The time has come again. The summer sun has set. The days grow colder and the nights grow longer and we fill those nights with new fall TV. As happens every autumn, the five major networks have unleashed a flurry of new programs to entertain us into these dark, frigid winter months and beyond. So many choices. So much risk! How will you know what to watch? That’s where I come in. I watch every new fall pilot episode so that you don’t have to. I take one for the team, so you can watch the… screen(m). It’s time for…
THE PILOT PROJECT (2016 Edition)
Pitch (Thursdays on FOX)
What a perfect time to be writing about Pitch. We’re in the midst of an incredibly exciting MLB postseason, and it just feels right to be talking about baseball.
Baseball is something that I didn’t understand for most of my life. I thought it was boring. Next to soccer, it was the easiest sport for my friends and I to make fun of in school. We would say that baseball players aren’t athletes and that there’s a reason it’s called a “pastime” and not a sport. It wasn’t until last summer that I began to understand. I had heard people talking about the Blue Jays all season, so I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about. To my surprise, I enjoyed it. I continued watching into the post-season and I remember exactly where I was when, in the bottom of the 7th, in game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers, Jose Bautista hit a three-run go-ahead homer and delivered the most infamous bat flip in history. That was the moment when I realized that I was a fan of baseball. I may have been a bandwagon jumper, but that was the moment that ensured I wouldn’t be getting off.
There’s a kind of magic to baseball that’s very hard to explain. I don’t blame people for not understanding, because for most of my life, I didn’t understand either. It’s something you have to experience.
I experienced it this year when I road-tripped down to Seattle to watch the Jays face off against the Mariners in a ballpark that became a sort of “home away from home” for the Jays.
I experienced it when Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez passed away and the baseball community put aside their differences and came together to mourn.
I experienced it when his friend and teammate, Dee Gordon, took to the plate in the very next game and did this:
That was his first and only homerun this season (he has 9 homeruns over the course of his 553 game career).
I experienced it again last night when the Blue Jays swept the Texas Rangers in the 10th inning of an ALDS rematch, winning the game off of an error by Rougned Odor, the Ranger who punched Jose Bautista in May in retaliation for that bat flip. It’s a weird game, but it’s special, as is Pitch.
Pitch is the story of Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), a rookie pitcher who becomes the first women to play in the MLB when she is called up from the minors by the San Diego Padres. Baker becomes a national feminist figurehead as well as a contentious talking point in the world of Major League Baseball; there are cameos from a number of sports personalities, talking about Baker and her impact on the game. The show deals with Baker, her family, and her team, and the impact that her presence in the MLB has on all their lives. Due to the fact that Pitch is on Fox, they’re able to add an air of authenticity to the show, with Fox Sports personalities and graphics. I’m not a baseball expert, but it feels genuine to me.
I don’t know how much you’ll get out of Pitch if you don’t like baseball. It seems a lot more focused on the sport than something like Friday Night Lights, which was more about the impact that football had on a small town in Texas. Pitch is the opposite – it’s about the effect that a black, female pitcher has on the MLB, and considering the topicality of issues related to race and gender, it feels like Pitch has come along at just the right time.
It remains to be seen how the pilot episode’s “twist” will play out in the coming weeks, but I feel comfortable recommending this show regardless.
There’s a kind of magic to baseball that’s very hard to explain, but if Pitch can tap into that the way it has so far, then it’s going to be a show worth watching.
Recommendation: Watch it