Fox’s “Pitch” is a new TV show about a young female pitcher in the San Diego Padres baseball organization that gets called up to pitch in the majors, breaking a gender barrier that has existed for well over a century.
The viewing numbers for “Pitch” aren’t great, though, and Fox didn’t do their newest drama any favors by airing it on Thursday nights, but my hope is that it’s just a slow build that keeps this show alive. For me, this is the best sports drama since “Friday Night Lights” – even though, it’s probably the only sports drama since FNL.
But I bring that show up for the similar comparisons with this new show.
I’ll admit that I didn’t think this was going to be a good show – mostly because I didn’t understand who they were targeting: Sports fans? Women? Kids?
— Jane McManus (@janesports) September 30, 2016
There’s a reason there are very few sports drama TV shows out there, but this one, I’ve discovered, is like FNL in that it transcends into all demographics, and it’s a great TV show to watch alone – or with your family.
Even the Parents Television Council is fighting to save this show, and they’re urging Fox to give it a fair chance in a better time slot.
9 Reasons Fox’s “Pitch” is One of the Best New Shows You Should Be Watching
My hope is that I’ll convince you to like this show so that we can ensure it doesn’t get canceled! Give it some social media love!
Fox and MLB Took It Seriously
They could have gone the “Eastbound and Down” route and made this a comedy, but the creators smartly made it a drama. With an excellent cast, look and setting (Petco Park in San Diego), the series was meant to have staying power and not just be a gimmick, which is exactly what they’re protagonist is trying to do with her baseball career.
Major League Baseball Gave Unprecedented Inside Access
Just from a sports fan’s perspective, this show is interesting because it gives you a good look behind the scenes of a professional sports team in the 2010s. This isn’t “Major League” or “1st and 10.”
The creators went to MLB and asked for the league’s blessing – and their advice.
“[MLB’s] main ask, honestly more than anything, was that we get the baseball world authentic. When we do something, we consult with God knows how many people and it’s a lot of work to say, ‘How would this happen?’” – Co-creator Dan Fogelman on how MLB helped with the show.
Former major league pitcher Gregg Olson helps Kyle Bunbury learn how to pitch, including her windup and delivery, and former major league catcher Chad Kreuter obviously is on board to help with hitters and Mark Paul Gosselaar (who plays their star catcher, Mike Lawson).
What’s also key is that they used real teams with fictional players, so we don’t have to grumble when we see a star player make a cameo, when he’s really having his worst pro season ever.
She’s a Great “Pitcher,” Not an Ace
I was hoping they wouldn’t try to make us thing that Ginny Baker, the rookie trying to become the first female major leaguer, could throw 100 mph and she was striking out dozens of batters a game.
They didn’t, and they really went out of their way to make it a believable ascension into the pros. They gave her a high-80s fastball, and it’s her mastery of one pitch, the screwball, that has helped her succeed.
In reality, however, the fastest recorded speed a female pitcher has ever thrown a baseball was by Lauren Boden in 2013, when she threw a pitch 69mph.
Actress Playing Ginny Baker – is Stellar
Bunbury’s turn as Baker is fantastic so far. She’s stoic when she needs to be, like on the mound or in the clubhouse when things are going bad. But she is also completely believable as a young woman suddenly becoming the biggest star in the world.
A Stellar Cast In Every Sort of Way
I worried that watching Zack Morris as a major-league catcher was going to be an issue. It’s not. He plays the team’s superstar catcher, much like a Buster Posey, and he does it well.
Ali Larter (“Heroes”) plays a great no-nonsense agent;, Mark Consuelos is really good as the team’s general manager, and Bob Balaban (Chris Guest movies) is superb as the bottom-line owner.
Great Editing Makes It More Believable
According to an article on EW.com, they used a dual shooting style to differentiate between the game like it would be seen on TV, like on Fox, and the game you can’t see on TV.
”We built this whole technique of the Fox presentation of baseball, which has its graphics, and then with a different color and a different look, you’re into what you don’t see when you watch baseball, which is the conversations they have on the mound, the moments where you can’t be close enough to really see what the pitcher and the catcher are communicating to each other. “That’s because I’ve always wanted to know, when I see them on the mound and the gloves are up, what exactly are they saying? With Pitch, we can actually take you in there, we can take you into the dugout, and give you an all-access pass to baseball.” – Executive Produce Paris Barclay
More Storylines Than I Expected
Without giving away too many storylines that have already happened just three episodes in, realize that, just like “Friday Night Lights,” this show is moving several different ways, and that’s a good thing. From the manager to the owner to Baker’s teammate that served as her mentor to Baker’s relationship with her father to Lawson’s relationship with his ex-wife, there are plenty of paths for this show to take.
— Pitch (@PITCHonFOX) October 6, 2016
Fox Put Sports Talent Behind It For Realism
In the first couple episodes, Fox did a great job of flexing their massive muscles by using talent not associated with the show to help it seem like a real sporting event.
As mentioned, it’s a real baseball team in a real baseball park, but they also have Joe Buck calling some games with John Smoltz. Additionally, they smartly added clips of FoxSports1 personalities, like Colin Cowherd and Katie Nolan, which helps their own exposure, too.
Great Characters Standing In For Sets of Viewers
One of my favorite characters is Evelyn Sanders, who plays the wife of Blip Sanders, Baker’s friend from the minor leagues.
Evelyn basically acts as her friend, but really, she’s most females sitting at home watching this show, hoping for her to succeed, even though she isn’t a baseball player.
There’s also a jerk in the clubhouse (the injured pitcher that Baker replaced on the roster) that stands in for every guy that would likely be against a woman joining a ballclub.
And Gosselaar’s character basically stands in for every evolved man in the 21st century that would be fine with a women joining, as long as she could help the team win.