I’d just like to preface this review with: I don’t know shit about baseball.
Sports dramas are (excuse the pun) very hit and miss, you want to access the broadest appeal for a pastime that is incredibly regional and specific person to person. How do you get people to tune into a sport that they don’t have to care about?
Really only a handful of sports tv dramas have ever really been successful, Friday Night Lights, One Tree Hill and Blue Ridge Mountain. All of which were high school/college sports and extremely low stakes.
Pitch is extremely high stakes, its premise centres around a lighting rod of opinion Ginny Baker who becomes the first woman to play for a major league baseball team. The first tv show to be endorsed by Major League Baseball, its bound to get opinions raging on either side of the fence.
Ginny Baker is a twenty three year old ballplayer called up to the majors, the first woman to ever play a major league sport in the top 4 North American sports. She becomes the pinnacle of feminism and an icon to girls all across the country. It’s impossible not to get a little choked-up as a little girl waves a sign saying “I’m Next” as Ginny makes her way to her first game with San Diego Padres.
Team dynamics knock her off her game a bit as the pitcher she’s replacing makes the point that she’s only there to sell tickets. Mark-Paul Vosselaar (Saved by the Bell) in an unrecognisable role as gaging captain Mike Lawson and Mo McRae as Blip Sanders Ginny’s one ally in the team.
Ginny Baker is played by Kylie Banbury, the Canada native, who sadly is not given enough to work with in the episode as she battles against her own skill trying and failing to pitch as well as she knows she can, her father dragging her out of the shame spiral she undertakes. Kyle Banbury is an incredible actress, I’ve seen her in Tut and Twisted and she’s better than this episode.
The first episode is framed as the quintessential sports movie, our hero overcoming her own demons, her rocky relationship with a father that basically shaped her into the perfect ‘robot’ baseball player.
Outside of the sports drama there’s the political drama that surrounds baseball which might end up being a little bit more intriguing. Ali Larter plays Amelia Slater, Ginny’s hardass publicist who used to managed George Clooney but is now here furiously defending Ginny Slater as she fails in her first game in the Major League.
The main tension of the first episode is between Ginny and her father as we see through flashbacks that he trained her to surpass him in a baseball career, she’s broken emotionless and has no real identity past her ‘trickshot’ pitches. After she wins her second game Ginny finally reunites with her father only to discover that he died the day she got signed to her new contract. It’s gut-wrenching but at the same time exactly like a sports movie.
So I’m hoping that instead of the typical sports drama I’m hoping we see a girl with a great job gain an identity outside the sport she’s been trained for her whole life. If it surpasses a sports drama then Ptch will have a fighting chance of winning.