On the season finale of Pitch, Ginny chases history while nearing her season shutdown point, making a run at the first no-hitter by a woman ever, while flashing around to romantic subplots and clearing the mechanism in a way that’s totally not at all ripped off from For Love of The Game. Mike and Ginny fight awkwardness over the near-trade and their near-kiss, as Mike’s ex-wife and the fake Mark Zuckerberg vie for their attention. Blip and Evelyn fight for…why were Blip and Evelyn fighting again? Oh, the stupid stuff with the restaurant and the con-artist brother and Amelia. Yeah, let’s ignore that.
Jarrett: Well, at least we got some resolution on the romance plots, right? Cliffhangers on shows that are on-the-bubble for renewal are so brutal.
This episode had a ton of interesting baseball theory in it. We start on September 1st, the not-really-but-sorta morning after for Ginny and Mike, and the day before Ginny’s planned start. We find out Ginny is on an innings limit and the Padres have planned for her to throw about three more starts. But one of the Ross interns from “Alfonso Guzman-Chavez” concocts a theory about the extra strain of the screwball and Ginny’s declining spin rate that convinces Oscar to shut her down immediately. Ginny, of course, opposes the move, as does Mike, yet the decision is ultimately made by Kevin Connolly to give her one more start for the most usurious of reasons: the Padres are looking at a sellout crowd for Ginny the next night. Oscar reluctantly acquiesces under the condition that that her innings and pitches be closely monitored during the game.
Meg: Where is Dave Roberts when you need him?! Mostly, where is a consistent portrayal of “statheads” when you need it? At the trade deadline, Good Ross wasn’t much of a stats guy. Bad Ross was the stats guy, with “his” WAR numbers and his glasses (he had glasses, right?) and his degree in applied math. Good Ross was the one with the useful advice to just keep calling the Angels until they agreed to do a trade. Now Oscar is calling Good Ross “Beautiful Mind” while Good Ross stands at a whiteboard (classic Doing-Nerd-Stuff signal) and talks spin rate? Pitch has never quite known how it feels about sabermetrics, and so how much authority it gives to the stats has been inconsistent episode to episode. Hell, it’s been inconsistent Ross to Ross. But for a medical decision like this, I would imagine that there would a lot of conversation with people who know more about female bodies than Good Ross (veiled insult intended). Kevin Connolly as craven tech guy not caring about Ginny’s innings limit in order to cash in on one final start seems right as craven tech guys go, but pretty inconsistent with his stated belief that numbers can predict the future. Which is it, Kevin?
Jarrett: It was a bit of weird characterization for Kevin Connolly, in a season of weird characterization where he was whatever this week’s front office antagonist role needed him to be. Caricature of a bad stathead from ten years ago? You got it! Completely clueless about baseball? Sure! In love with the numbers? Of course! Caring about nothing but profit? Who doesn’t!
The next part of the story was revealed at the very beginning of the episode in another Sorkinism device: to Oscar’s horror, Ginny carries a no-hitter into the 8th while pushing over 100 pitches, giving us our Ross Stripling moment. Al defies Oscar’s orders to pull Ginny and instead lets Ginny make the call, and of course she’s not coming out of the game. We get our last big Mike and Ginny mound moment—more on that later—and Ginny bears down to get out of the eighth on a bunt back to the mound. And then the camera cuts back to Ginny and she’s writhing in pain on the ground.
Narratively, it doesn’t matter whether Ginny blows her elbow out pitching or throwing to first or washing her truck. But we’re all baseball dorks here, and purely as the end to an interesting baseball discussion that the episode raised, why oh why do you have the injury on a throw to first? It’s a weak way out of the story, taking no true position on whether leaving her in to chase a really big piece of history was the right call or the wrong call.
Meg: I’m of two minds on this. In the moment, the cuts to Mike and Oscar and Evelyn as they all reacted to getting the third out, only to realize that Ginny was on the ground was pretty affecting stuff. And in a way, I liked that they didn’t really show the actual injury; her blowing out her elbow on say, the final out of a no-hitter would have been a bit much. But you’re right that they are skirting the bigger, more interesting question. When is Ginny going to be in this position again? Her throwing a no-hitter as a woman and as a Padre would certainly carry historical weight for baseball and her franchise. The tension between that and her health is really interesting and the debate is a worthwhile one. I do wonder how compelling that debate is as TV drama, though.
Jarrett: It’s compelling to us as baseball dorks and probably wholly uncompelling to the part of the viewership posting music videos with #Bawson on social media. I have no idea what kind of audience split that is.
At least the act of building to Ginny’s elbow injury gave her agency for the first time in awhile. Mike tries to distract her on the mound with talk about their almost-kiss, after avoiding it for the entire episode, and Ginny says they’ll talk on her terms, but also stands firm that nothing’s happening soon because they’re teammates. Fake Mark Zuckerberg wants to whirl her around the world after two dates and one night together, and she decides against that. Amelia keeps interfering with her family stuff, and Ginny fires her. Al gives her the choice of staying in the game or not, and she threatens him with bodily harm if he pulls her. Many of these are bad choices, but they’re her choices, and that’s an important narrative arc.
Meg: At some point, I would like it if her moments of agency didn’t come in the context of a beanball war or a potentially career altering injury, but I agree. The last few weeks of the show have been all about things happening to Ginny; Mike getting traded to the Cubs, then staying put. Her brother trying to swindle her. Good Ross deciding that she should be shut down. After a couple of episodes where it felt like someone else’s show, Ginny asserts that this moment (and the broader arc of the series) is still about her. That she is then almost immediately injured made that moment very bittersweet.
Jarrett: Injuring Ginny right after taking both her brother and Amelia out of play would set up a very interesting season two…if we get season two. We leave everyone with a lot of uncertainty: Ginny’s elbow is screwed up, but we don’t know how bad, Mike has lost the Padres and is a pending free agent, Blip and Evelyn are on the rocks, Amelia is more or less fired, Al might be up the creek without a paddle for leaving Ginny in. I suppose from a production standpoint, this leaves a lot of directions for a potential season two, and at least a few actors that could be leaving the show, unfortunately.
Meg: Who comes back as her “person” will be really interesting. Despite his evening with his ex-wife and the revelation that she has ended her engagement, my money's still on Mike. If anyone can appreciate having your career flash before your eyes, it has to be the aging catcher, right?
If you’ll indulge a brief bit of grandstanding, I really hope this show comes back. Not just because it would be a bummer if the last image we get from a series about the first woman to pitch in the majors is her being rolled into an MRI machine, or because we have a lot of open plot points that need resolving, or because the creators came to their senses about what an unrealistic disaster it would be for Ginny and Mike to pursue a romantic relationship while on the same team. But because for the first time in a very long time, there is a show on television for which I am the exact target audience. Pitch isn’t limited in its appeal to women who love baseball, and there is more than enough here to attract male baseball fans, non-baseball fans, lovers of good drama, and appreciators of well-maintained beards. But there was and is something very special in being able to turn on a smartly written, well-acted, generally-pretty-realistic portrayal of Major League Baseball that has, at its heart, a young woman. A young woman who is taken seriously, and whose aspirations are taken seriously, and whose “issues” are taken seriously. Putting this on the air says, “This is worthy of our attention.” That isn’t exactly saying to the women watching the show “You are worthy our attention,” but it feels awfully close, and that has meant a great deal. So I say #RenewPitch. Ginny’s rookie season was pretty great. I hope we get to see what she does next.
Jarrett: I agree with all of that. It’s a good show and an important show and hopefully FOX brings it back. Since this the end of Pitch, and thus these reviews, for somewhere between nine months and forever, I’d like to take a moment to thank our readers for hanging out with us. It’s been a lot of fun getting to do weekly television reviews along with one of my favorite writers, and it’s the readership that ultimately makes that possible.
And hey, maybe we can convince Craig that Scott Patterson’s minor-league career makes Gilmore Girls relevant to the interests of BP readers. [ed. Note: lolno]
Meg: Where you lead, I will follow.