Pitch Is Perfect

3 Jan
Is hair like that the secret to happiness? Can I give it a whirl and get back to you?

Is hair like that the secret to happiness? Can I give it a whirl and get back to you?

By Alexa Day

Right up until the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, I was prepared to complain about the direction the show had taken. I’d spent most of the seventh season tuning in to listen to the endless rambling of Negan, who is basically a schoolyard bully with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. I could not figure out why people who had driven glass into their enemies’ eyes or torn out their enemies’ throats with their teeth were afraid of a big Chatty Cathy doll with a bat, and I’d started to lose interest in that particular mystery.

But I have to thank Negan for something. If he hadn’t annoyed the living daylights out of me, I might never have spent half an episode looking for other things to watch. If I hadn’t gone shopping for alternatives, I would never have found Pitch. I think I may be the last person in North America to have found the Fox series about the first woman to play major league baseball, but my tardiness meant I could binge-watch the whole season, so I’m grateful for it.

Pitch rescued me from the depths of television despair. It’s amazing. It’s given me reason to believe in regular network television again.

How?

Well, the easy answer is that it’s clearly put together by people who give a damn about what they’re doing and have the talent to do it well. I think that’s getting lost in television these days. How much television is being produced by people writing random stories that don’t make sense because they don’t think you’ll ever quit watching? Too much.

The true beauty of Pitch is that it isn’t about baseball at all. It’s about a large group of tight-knit characters who interact with each other and each other’s issues against the backdrop of baseball. Baseball is more of a setting in the way that New York City is a setting. It’s important but it doesn’t drive the story.

A lot of other things make Pitch beautiful.

1. There are no one-dimensional characters, even in the secondary cast. We know that Ginny’s agent, Amelia, used to represent celebrities, and so we know why she needs to protect Ginny from herself. We also know that Amelia’s struggle with infertility cost her a relationship, which adds a touch of vulnerability to her hard-charging facade. The general manager (Mark Consuelos, looking good) recruits a Cuban player by pitching a doll’s head at him. It’s the opening to a very well written conversation about two immigrants whose lives were changed by an all-American game. Ginny’s teammate, Blip, and his glamorous wife have an argument about how their marriage is not built on what they each wanted from life. It’s hard to create an entire cast of well-rounded characters, but there is a giant payoff in feeling every character’s fears, joys, and crushing disappointments. There’s a bigger payoff in not knowing whether a beloved character will find the happiness they want so badly or face another setback.

2. Complex feminism. I missed Pitch when it first showed up in September because I thought it was going to depend on one-note feminism. If I knew that a woman could do the job, and she knew she could do the job, I didn’t want to spend a whole season watching her prove it to the world at large. (In September, that felt a lot like the real world.) Pitch establishes right away that Ginny can do the job well enough to stay on the team. Much of the rest of the season touches on the kind of things women have to deal with in the universe outside professional baseball. Ginny has to balance her job with her social life; her groupies are all female and with her job, she struggles to find time to date. Ginny and her agent have to deal with leaked nude photos. (Their solution, which involves the ESPN Body Issue, is brilliant.) Ginny’s entire family has always wanted her to achieve this level of success, but once she’s arrived, they all have different issues with her. None of us are strangers to the pressure to maintain an image, build friendships, find romance, and establish a solid professional standing. Watching Ginny try, and sometimes fail, to do it live on the JumboTron made me want to cheer for her all the more.

I was surprised by how badly and how quickly I wanted to put my face against all that beard. Very badly. Very quickly.

I was surprised by how badly and how quickly I wanted to put my face against all that beard. Very badly. Very quickly.

3. Mike Lawson. Mike’s not the typical sports hero. The bottom half of his face is hidden beneath a thick beard. He’s starting to go to seed. Much is made of his bad knees. Age is catching up to him and he knows it. He’s the team captain, and he keeps the younger guys in line with the knowledge and wisdom that come with a long career. But that career has cost him just about everything, and when we join the story, we’re watching him deal with the ruins of the marriage he sacrificed to baseball, the erosion of his body, and the threat of being replaced. Mike’s earned his alpha status with the team, but we get to see him in private, too, at his most vulnerable. I’m not sure that we as romance writers are creating enough characters like Mike, but he’s the reason I keep coming back. I have the highest hopes for him, along with the deepest fears.

Of course, there’s bad news. Nothing’s free in this world, right?

As magnificent as Pitch is, we won’t see new episodes until next fall. That’s criminal, but I can see how it might have happened. It just bothers me that I have to wait that long to rejoin the story, and I’m scared that Fox will come up with some baseless reason to get rid of it.

I’m also worried about what will happen to Pitch if it does come back. Right after watching the world fall apart for all these wonderful characters, in exactly the way the world should fall apart in a season finale, I sat back with a contented sigh and wondered if I’d ever felt so happy with a television show. That’s when I remembered Sleepy Hollow. That first season finale was a thing of beauty. After that, it was like the writers became jealous of its glory and tried to destroy it. They finally succeeded by killing one of the leads, but they worked really hard to wreck that show before then.

(Sleepy Hollow isn’t completely dead, by the way. It’s just dead to me.)

So while I’m working through the next several months, waiting for Pitch to return, I’m on the lookout for other distractions. Fanfiction writers are already linking Ginny and Mike, which sounds just lovely to me but might not be the best idea for them. And I imagine I could be seeking out more sports romances during this long interval.

Just be warned. Pitch has presented me with an appropriately diverse professional baseball team. I will be pretty disappointed to find that romance can’t do the same.

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10 Responses to “Pitch Is Perfect”

  1. CJ Merced January 5, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    Love Pitch & have watched since before it’s 1st episode. We hosted this summers’ AllStar Game & Fanfest her in San Diego (right before or right after the Romance Writers Convention & ComicCon – what a beautifully busy summer continuation after our wonderfully musical month long county fair at our Del Mar Racetrack & Fairgrounds) and we got to see lots of set ups for the show. So cool! Here’s to Baker & Lawson Padres jerseys and love how the show highlights our beautiful city & ballpark with wonderfully written storylines.

    Like

    • Alexa Day January 5, 2017 at 10:53 pm #

      I saw someone on Twitter sharing her favorite Christmas present — a Baker Padres jersey — followed by a lot of very excited fans on the way to get their own jerseys. That’s pretty cool!

      I heard about the preview night you all had, too. It’s very exciting to see that the city and Major League Baseball are so supportive! Hopefully, Pitch will be around for a long time.

      Like

  2. Carlene Love January 5, 2017 at 11:58 am #

    Alexa!!!!!! Don’t feel bad. I LIVE in San Diego and I only just barely discovered Pitch last month! After binge watching it on demand, I am hooked. My mom likes to rub it in that she had mentioned it to me numerous times and I apparently let it go in one ear and out the other. She’s a Padres season ticket holder and such a lucky girl because she gets to see anything promotional they do for the show up close and in person. I hope the show continues for all the reasons you listed.

    Mike Lawson. Yep, my husband actually looks EXACTLY like Mike Lawson. To the point that if he put on a Padres jersey with Lawson on the back, he’d probably get stopped all day long.

    I’m so happy you love the show and it’s great to hear that it has fans across the country!!! That’s got to be a good sign.

    Love,
    Carlene

    Like

    • Alexa Day January 5, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

      Carlene, my mom and I have something similar going. She’s a big baseball fan and was excited to be in San Diego with me so close to the All-Star Game. (Reality struck when we realized this isn’t the sort of thing where a person just walks up to buy tickets, but her day trip to Tijuana made up for it.)

      I think if you put on Amelia’s power suit, you and your husband might have some real cosplay action happening. Right?

      I sure have my fingers crossed for this show. I would love to see such a well executed project find a long-term home on this network!

      Like

  3. Elizabeth Shore January 3, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

    I not with you on TWD, my friend. I’m still loving it. But Pitch sounds great – and you’re not the last person to have heard about it. I am. 😉

    Like

    • Alexa Day January 3, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

      Well, the finale for TWD has given me hope … and I’m in too deep now to leave anyway. But those folks have been testing me lately!

      Definitely give Pitch a try! I was totally sucked in within the first few minutes.

      Like

  4. kaceyhammell January 3, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

    I LOVE Pitch!! I watch it every week with hubs, Son & his girlfriend. We all love how faceted the chracters are. I am praying it returns. I dont think it is best to link Ginny & Mike…but OMG I WISH… As it is their chemistry that also strengthens the show. That bond would be amazeballs in bed but better out of it.

    Like

    • Alexa Day January 3, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

      I totally agree with you there. Because of the way the show is constructed, with all those fantastic characters so closely connected, Ginny and Mike sleeping together would be devastating to both of them, in the short run and the long run, as well as potentially damaging to almost everyone else. Even a dream sequence would be a bad idea. In fact, if Fox were looking for a way to destroy the show, that would be an effective way to do it.

      Unfortunately, none of this changes the fact that I’m a big enough perv that I kind of just want to see it. Just once.

      Lol. I have problems.

      Like

  5. Madeline Iva January 3, 2017 at 10:26 am #

    Sounds good! I love that guy character that suddenly you find yourself all hubba-hubba for because of his unexpected depth of flavor and resonance. Yum!

    Like

    • Alexa Day January 3, 2017 at 9:18 pm #

      Yes! Mike is kind of a departure from the sort of dude I usually go for, but honestly, if he were younger and stronger and had all his shit together, he would not be as interesting to me. He would be just another baller with an overabundance of money, attitude and faux problems.

      That beard, though. I didn’t think that would work for me, either, but I don’t mind being surprised. 😉

      Like

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