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Series / Pitch (2016)

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Pitch is a 2016 baseball drama that aired on FOX. Kylie Bunbury stars as Ginny Baker, an upstart pitcher who rises to national prominence when she's recruited to the San Diego Padres — becoming the first ever woman to play on an MLB team. Unfortunately the series was reported cancelled on May 1, 2017.

As her MLB career unfolds, she's forced to own her responsibility as a role model to young girls, prove she deserves her place in the big leagues, and fight against sexism within the world of sports.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar co-stars as Mike, Ginny's veteran teammate, while Ali Larter plays her tenacious publicist Amelia, and Mark Consuelos as the Padres' manager Oscar.

The MLB itself was involved in production of this series, lending the actual likenesses of its various teams for usage.

Pitch provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Ginny's dad wanted one of his children to become a baseball player, no matter what either thought about it. When Ginny complained she was tired after practicing and wanted to stop, her dad slapped her brother, afterward implying he'd keep doing it until the started again. It's indicated to not be the only instance too.
  • The Ace:
    • Mike Lawson. It's outright stated that he's going to the Hall of Fame once he retires and is eligible. He's also comfortable with being both a star athlete and a sports icon.
    • Played with by Ginny. Ginny's a standout pitcher in high school but only a good if not great pitcher once she gets into the majors, and she struggles with the duality of being an icon. Heck, in the Padres, she's their 5th string starting pitcher and much to the surprise of Al and Mike, has never pitched relief before.
  • Almost Kiss: Ginny and Mike nearly kiss once before she backs away.
  • Beneath the Mask: Ginny's persona tends to be rather emotionless and stoic, with only the mildest of reactions even with her closest friends, barring calm anger. Underneath though, she's emotionally stunted and scarred and only barely knows how to act towards other people. Young!Ginny was a bit more open with her emotions but that quickly vanished.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Padres minority owner Frank Reid. He's very supportive of Ginny and his team. But that won't stop him from laying down the law if someone steps out of line... even if that someone is long time coach Al. Unfortunately, he didn't take into account how much of a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass Al is.
  • Butt-Monkey: Eliot, Amelia's assistant. Even Ginny, who's normally pretty nice to all and sundry, gives him short shrift during a phone call regarding Blip Sanders's chances of being traded.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Ginny's best pitch, the one that got her to the majors, is stated to be a screwball, which no current MLB pitcher throws. The reason nobody throws it is that it's almost impossible to throw the pitch without putting gradually increasing levels of strain on the pitcher's arm. If the strain gets too high, it results in an injury. The technique to throw it that Ginny learned is probably used as a Hand Wave to get around this. This finally catches up to her in the season finale when the team's analyst notes that the strain she's put on her arm is far out of proportion to the point in the season and urges her to be benched for the remaining games. She doesn't listen, and pays the price with an injury.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Al. He even says it himself.
    Al: People who underestimate me tend to be surprised.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Mike suggests that a lot of ball players get into the game because of this. He is no exception. For instance, his mother used him as a kid to scam money out of people. Including his own biological father.
    • Ginny was into baseball already, but lost her dad in a horrific car accident right after she was picked for the Padres.
  • Dead All Along: Ginny's father turns out to have died in a car accident prior to her starting with the Padres. She had been imagining him watching her play and help her train in the present.
  • Disappeared Dad: Mike's father wasn't present in his life growing up.
  • Downer Ending: The first season (and due to the cancellation, series as a whole) ends with Ginny having to be hospitalized due to her wrist being overexerted.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Mike at first seems like a likable laid back narcissistic guy that's just a little chauvinistic. But when Ginny shows indignation at his butt-slapping, he becomes extremely stern and remarks that he does that to everyone, implying that as long as the team remains cohesive, does their thing, and follows his lead as team captain, he's got no problem with anyone nor should they with him and he honestly doesn't care that she's the first female player. He later brings up her comments to Al, showing that he's an extremely attentive listener, going against type of a macho athlete. Likewise, after Ginny's terrible first start, he acts professionally and deflects interview questions attempting to get him to talk poorly of her or the team.
    • Ginny has an extended one. Her Headphones Equal Isolation walk shows both her single-minded dedication to baseball but also herself imposed isolation from others. Likewise, her hair trigger reaction to Mike's butt slap shows her Hot-Blooded-ness and hints at her incredible fears about herself and the pressure she feels about having to constantly live up and prove herself.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: How Blip reacts when Mike decides to leave the Padres for the Cubs. Even though the trade deal falls through, Blip's still hurt that Mike almost abandoned the team.
  • A Father to His Men: Al. At the end of the day, they're his kids, whether he chose them or not. His acts of concern and kindness are too numerous to even begin to start here.
  • Flash Back: Used to show Ginny's journey. Mike gets one eventually.
  • Gratuitous English: Oscar starts speaking Spanish to a prospective Cuban-born player only for the player to insist on English.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: The first scene of the pilot shows Ginny tuning people out with a pair of bulky headphones.
  • Heroic RRoD: At the end of "Don't Say it", Ginny over-exerts her elbow from throwing too many screwballs over the season and injures it, with the season ending with her possibly having to undergo Tommy John surgery.
  • Honorary Uncle: Ginny is a surrogate aunt to Blip and Evelyn's children.
  • Hot-Blooded: Ginny, if only as a reflex towards the sexism she's faced—she actually instigates a bench clearing brawl because the opposing pitcher won't hit her with the ball in retaliation for her doing the same. Inverted with Mike who one might think would be a hot head but instead opts for non-aggressive solutions. Though on occasion when she's feeling threatened, she'll snap at just about anyone around even allies like Mike.
  • It's All About Me: Blip and Evelyn have strains in their marriage when Blip tends to take her for granted (for example, when they discover that Ginny's brother has been using the money she gave him to pay off loan sharks, the first thing he does is he says he wants more kids, but she has plans that involve actually getting a degree and having a career independent of his baseball), and she has to read him the Riot Act over this.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Mike and Al both doubt the Cubs will ever win the World Series. This is after Mike has turned down a trade to the Cubs, unknowingly passing up what was probably his last chance at a ring.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Blip is quite pissed at Mike and Evelyn during the events of Don't Say It over their actions in the previous few episodes. This comes out... poorly. That said, when he makes a point about Ginny's mid-season condition, punctuated by the fact that he's the only person who's played a full season with her, it's ignored.
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold
    • Mike Lawson. He's kind of a narcissist, and as a veteran looking to cement his legacy, cautious about his public image, but at the end of the day, he respects his teammates and commands their respect in return. He remembers for instance that Ginny dislikes the butt slapping and says as much to his coach.
    • Al Luongo. He admits to Ginny he screwed up, and always takes on the task of informing his players of any unpleasant news for himself, never delegating it to anyone else. He also gave Oscar his first job with the Padres despite the latter being somewhat of a rough and tumble youth.
    • Oscar seems like he'll be your typical weasel of a manager. But as the war between Al and Frank heats up, he starts to show his political savvy in support of Al. And he invites his daughter, who adores Ginny, to meet her.
    • Charlie Graham plays extreme hardball getting Oscar to cut 2 million dollars while also trading up for players during the trade window and follows up with roster cuts after. But when Ginny breaks under stress, he comments that as the leadership of her team (Al, Oscar, and Charlie) have both an economic AND moral obligation to protect her. And he recognizes, unlike the other two, that maybe what Ginny needs is therapy.
  • Junior Counterpart: Mike and Ginny. Mike is a shoo-in Hall of Famer who has a lifetime of experience dealing with pressure, fame, and expectations but has figured out how to do so largely on his own. Ginny is a fresh-faced rookie who has only that to look forward to but is ill-equipped to do so unless she opens up.
  • Lesbian Jock: Discussed, as the guys on the team had a bet about whether Ginny is a lesbian. She's straight, but her single-minded focus on playing means she'd not dated much, although she does go out with a couple guys during the series' events, and an ex-boyfriend of hers also gets introduced.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Well, daughter. Ginny doesn't get much from her father, but she did end up with his single-minded devotion to baseball to the point that anything unrelated tends to get ignored. When Tommy introduces her to his family, she walks out to investigate a trade rumor before even saying hello to Tommy's toddler. Likewise, her major investment in her friends tends to be their relationship to baseball and through that, her.
  • Love Epiphany: Downplayed; when Mike Lawson and Blip explain to one of the Padres that he does not know enough about Ginny to actually have legitimate feelings for her, Mike compares the situation to how much he knows about her and how much time they spend together. When Mike finishes, all three of them realize that he has essentially confessed that he has feelings for her, although apparently not serious yet.
  • Loving a Shadow: When one of the Padres confesses to Lawson and Blip that he missed seeing a call because he was staring at Ginny, and he is developing feelings for her, Lawson and Blip immediately drag him into a separate room and explain that he knows nothing about her and cannot be in love with her because he never speaks to her.note  In an ironic twist, Mike's comparison with how much he knows about her and all they time they spend together makes all three of them realize that he might have an attraction to Ginny himself.
  • Mama Bear: Amelia is very protective of Ginny, both professionally and personally.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • When Ginny was 12, Ginny's mom pulled her aside and told her that if she wanted to quit baseball, she would be there. Ginny subsequently decided that she wanted to be a normal 12-year-old girl...only to catch her mother cheating on her dad, which caused Ginny to reverse her decision.
    • Ginny trying to push for Blip not to be traded, when that option wasn't even seriously being considered by Oscar, accidentally gives Oscar ideas which ends up getting her fellow pitcher Tommy traded away.
    • Related to the above, Amelia's advice to Ginny was not well thought out, because it wasn't designed to take into account the team's ultimate subordination to the manager in baseball.
    • Al's fight to save his job results in the arrival of Charlie who makes Frank look reasonable. Charlie implies he'll fire either or both the groundskeeper or the head referee because the former won't prep the field while it's still raining and the latter might call off the game altogether because of the rain. He also forces Oscar to try to get Mike to think about trading and in general, is much more of a proactive tyrant than Frank ever was.
    • After Ginny asks how Noah became a billionaire in his twenties, he tells her that he basically shut out everyone else and focused on calling his own shots without heeding anyone else. This results in Ginny getting pissed at him for white knighting, pissed at Mike who is actually trying to be mature about his personal emotions for once, pissed at Amelia to the point where she walks out on here, and to top it all off, results in her stubbornly continuing to pitch to the point of injury.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Ginny's father seemed to disapprove of her making friends with her teammate Jordan because of the way it distracted her from practice and lowered her focus on the game, but when he saw just how crushed Jordan was that his own father could not be bothered to show up to his games he called him himself in order to get him to the field. It was Jordan's father's drunk driving that killed him.
  • Number Two: Blip serves as this for Mike on the Padres. Mike even suggests that whenever Mike retires, Blip will be the one to take his place as team captain. Ross is shaping up to be this to Oscar.
  • Off Screen Crash: The accident that killed Ginny's father.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Ginny's dad died in a car accident, while she was there with him.
    • Regarding her mother, it's played with. As a consequence of Ginny's father's constant push for Ginny to play baseball, her mother felt increasingly left out of Ginny's life despite all her attempts to be a part of it. Sadly, her mom's reaction to this only worsened the problem as Ginny discovering her mom with another man resulted in Ginny distancing herself even more from her mom and throwing herself more fully into baseball.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: Subverted — Ginny mainly got into baseball because of her father, and while she's a dedicated athlete, she doesn't quite seem to be totally passionate about it. To be fair, one flashback shows her father slapping her brother across the face when she complains that she's exhausted and he implies he'll keep slapping her brother until she succeeds at what he wants. Bare in mind both of them are pre-teens at the time. And from the way that she reacts to him after her terrible first game, it doesn't sound like that was an isolated incident.
  • Performance Anxiety: Ginny's first game in the MLB goes disastrously. Justified in that prior to her first start, she was on various TV shows, magazines, and other media on top of general opposition and expectations. Clinton and Oprah both send her gifts. She's compared to OJ Simpson and other top end veteran athletes and constantly compared to Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier. She has a cadre of bodyguards. Attendance and viewership to her first game is implied to be unusually high due to the number of women and girls watching, many of whom are there specifically for her and what she represents. This kind of attention would be unusual for a top-tier pitcher about to break a record, never mind a pitcher new to the majors.
  • Plot Armor: Literally with Mike. He actually has a no trade clause in his contract meaning unless Ginny goes to a different team or he retires for one reason or another, he's going to be in the dugout. In regards to the Padres, Ginny too being the first and currently only female player means that trading or any sort of action that might be perceived as negative towards her is PR the Padres don't want.
  • The Quiet One: Buck. That said, as assistant manager and long time friend to Al, they're usually on the same page and don't need much words to talk to each other. After Frank moves to fire Al and puts Buck in charge, he starts to talk more but he's still fairly taciturn.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • The normally very well-composed Oscar chews Ginny out for trying to use her status to protect Blip's job, essentially outlining that everyone involved gets lots of money to play a game and that disruption to one's life is part and parcel of the lifestyle. Not only that, but it's essential as at the end of the day, everyone wants to win and if that means trading a friend, so be it. For Ginny, this isn't easy since she already has few friends. He does the same to Amelia when nudes of Ginny are expected to surface, stating that Ginny is a role model - regardless of gender - and as one of her bosses, he would love to actually help out and get ahead of any problems for once instead of learning about them after they break.
    • In a moment of awesome, Mike sneaks one of these in towards his rebellious backup catcher in the form of being said catcher's 'translator' when said catcher refuses to even talk to reporters.
  • Remember the New Guy?: When there are possibilities of trade or demotion to the minors, we're introduced to new teammates.
  • The Reveal: Ginny's father was never actually there when he accosted her in her hotel room late at night and made her do practice pitches in the baseball pit.
  • Rousing Speech: As team captain, this is one of Mike's main methods of both directing his teammates and demonstrating his character.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Padres' board member, Max, is actually Maxine.
  • Sherlock Scan: How Blip figured out that Mike was sleeping with Amelia, which Mike lampshades.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Ginny's 'secret weapon' is a screwball. That's a real pitch which looks like a curveball or a slider, butóbecause it is thrown in a weird wayóbreaks in the 'wrong' direction. When thrown properly it can really mess up a hitter's timing. Nobody currently pitching in the major leagues throws it because it's very easy for the pitcher to seriously hurt their arm with the weird arm rotation the pitch requires.note  Guess what happens in Don't Say It when Ross determines that she's close to her limit for the season.
    • There are women playing professional baseball on teams with men, they're just not on any team affiliated with MLB. They are vanishingly few in number and are usually pitchers. Unlike Ginny these female pitchers tend to rely, not on a screwball, but a knuckleball, the lethal joke pitch of baseball.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Much of the plot centers on the fact that Ginny not only is the only female Padres player, she's in fact the only women within the MLB, period.
  • Spirit Advisor: Ginny's father, who was killed in a car accident shortly after she was scouted to the Padres.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: In universe, Ginny is seen as this by other players, since being the first woman in the major leagues is such a big deal.
  • Stage Mom: Or rather, Stage Dad in the case of Ginny's father. He put a lot of pressure on her to succeed and didn't let her do things other kids did like go to dances. Ginny holds some resentment toward him for that, though she does love him deeply.
  • Technician Versus Performer: More in attitude and less in skill between Ginny and Mike. Mike is passionate about the game to the point that it ruined his marriage and it's implied he really doesn't have a life (or even friends) outside of it, which he's starting to regret. Ginny, who makes up lack of power with finesse and precision, isn't necessarily passionate about the game and driven more about dedication and perhaps outright stubbornness. She also has close relationships with her family and friends.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. It's the first person her team leadership calls when they discover signs of trouble. Moreover, it's implied that (mandatory) therapy is something she'll be attending for quite some time to help her where everyone else in her life can not.
  • Token Minority: Amelia's assistant and Oscar on the business side, the Padres' Korean pitcher on the athletic side.
  • Tough Love: Ginny's father didn't believe in coddling her as a child. He outright tells her she'll never have the upper body strength to compete on power... so she'll have to compete through finesse. This isn't necessarily atypical as other notable pitchers have done the same.
  • "Well Done, Daughter!" Girl: Ginny spends just about all of her upbringing trying to convince her father she's good enough to play baseball. That said, see Passionate Sports Girl.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The end of the pilot as we see a flashback of Ginny and her dad in an accident, cutting to her father (looking exactly the same) before Ginny in the stadium. Then showing their "practice" earlier was just Ginny throwing at a wall and revealing her father was killed in the accident years ago.
    • In a later episode, "Alfonzo Guzman-Chavez", it is revealed that the driver (who may have been still somewhat under the influence) was the father of Ginny's best friend, Jordan Collins.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Amelia tells Ginny to stand up for herself to prevent Blip from being traded as she knows in Hollywood, a mega-star (like Ginny) carries all the clout to get what they want. Sadly, Amelia has forgotten that in sports, the owners command all and would have no problems trading even their biggest star away if they feel like it with the players helpless to do anything.
  • You Go, Girl!: The premise of the show — a female baseball player proves she's good enough for the MLB.
  • You Know the One: Played for Laughs when Oscar needs to go to the dentist, but he doesn't have the time to put work on hold because the trade deadline is rapidly approaching. He tells his assistant to have "Ross" come with him so they can work in the car, and when she asks him which Ross (they have two) he says that she knows the one he likes. Unfortunately, his assistant apparently switches them up, and instead of getting the experienced MIT-graduate, he gets the community college schmo who got his job because he is related to somebody else and who asks "too many stupid questions". However, there are subtle hints that his assistant did this deliberately, as this Ross manages to give surprisingly sound advice and at the end of the episode, the manager tells his assistant that this is the Ross he likes (the other Ross is shown hanging his head).

Alternative Title(s): Pitch