(Courtesy of FOX-TV)
As a life-long fan of baseball, who started playing and following the sport at age 8, I can say without any trepidation whatsoever that a television show about a female pitcher making it to the Major Leagues would not spark my interest.
Call me sexist. Call me close-minded. Call me a stupid man.
Then I watched FOX-TV’s “Pitch.”
So go ahead and call me wrong.
The plot of the series is this: A young pitcher noted for HER screwball becomes the first female Major League Baseball player when she is called by the San Diego Padres. Kylie Bunbury stars as Ginny Baker, the pitcher in question, while Mark Paul Gosselaar (Zach, from Saved by the Bell, if you’re keeping track) stars as her late-30s, veteran catcher whose body is starting to fail him.
Dan Lauria also stars as the team’s veteran old school manager while Ali Larter appears as Baker’s agent.
The premise, I will admit, is a stretch. I’ll be the first to back any female athlete jumping into a male sport, but the first-ever woman pitcher to play an MLB game is still a ways off. (When it does happen it’s going to be because the pitcher has a vicious knuckleball … mark my words).
But IF it did happen, I can see it happening exactly as “Pitch” lays it out.
There is no heroic Disney-like debut. In fact, Baker feels the pressure of history and falls flat on her face after just 10 pitches.
Half of her teammates accept her. Half her teammates hate her and are jealous of her and the attention she receives, which as you can imagine in the media-laced 21st century, is over-the-top.
There are some eye-rolling moments like when Baker is giving No. 43 on her uniform because she’s one ahead of Jackie Robinson. And Bunbury’s delivery as a pitcher isn’t fully sold on me.
But I watched back-to-back episodes on Tuesday morning and it was enjoyable viewing that played out in very believable fashion.
The end of episode one even had an emotional twist that I didn’t expect. I won’t spoil it for you.
The highlight, I think, is Gosselaar as catcher Mike Lawson. His mannerisms behind the plate are very believable and the way he talks to his pitchers brings back memories of Crash Davis from Bull Durham.
And there’s no sexual spark between him and Baker … yet.
The one thing I’m interested to see: How the show should handle Baker’s ability to hit Major League pitching. She is, after all, playing in the National League and the show has yet to show a single at-bat.
To be true to the baseball story behind the player, a woman batting in the bigs is just as appealing and interesting to those curious as a woman pitching.
Here’s the “Pitch” from where I sit on the right side of my couch.
The first two episodes will bring me back for episode three, but will the entire series keep me on the edge of my seat like a no-hitter?