Previously on Pitch, “San Francisco”
The end of Mike Lawson’s career as a catcher has been a story element in Pitch since the very beginning. We’ve seen him explore other options – like moving on to be a broadcaster, retiring immediately just to get his ex-wife back, and trying out first base to give his knees a rest – for a number of episodes now. Last week, the show even put him in the spotlight, using its signature flashback structure to flesh out his backstory. While there’s nothing wrong with providing more details about the people in Ginny’s life, it is starting to feel like this is now the Mike Show.
Perhaps that feeling wouldn’t be so strong if the episode had paired Mike’s story with something a little more Ginny focused. It’s not as though she’s entirely absent from the plot concerning her brother, but she’s really only essential to it once Will needs her to get Amelia off his back. Ginny was basically walking through everyone else’s story – both figuratively, and literally in the scenes where she’s strolling around the clubhouse with Livan – instead of being a central focus. Which is where she should be. Ginny’s character is still so ripe for exploration, and with only a few episodes left I want as much of her as I can get!
We’ll get rained out before I ever leave San Diego
The no-trade clause in Mike’s contract only works one way: the Padres can’t trade him, but he can choose to trade himself. That prospect is exactly what’s on the table for Mike at this crucial time in his career. While it’s clear the Padres’ new management hopes Mike will take this opportunity, Oscar knows you can’t just ask a guy like him to leave. You have to plant the seed of the idea and let Mike come to the conclusion on his own terms. So, instead of talking specific options, both Oscar and Mike’s agent force him to focus on the question, is Mike Lawson happy?
Based on this and previous episodes, the answer certainly feels like a No. Especially since the team signed Livan, and Mike has been forced to play first base or sit on the bench. Before that happened, Ginny came on board and all eyes were on her. Mike has gone from being an indispensable star-player, to a creaky-kneed and rapidly aging athlete in a matter of months, and it’s certainly a blow to his ego. Not only that, but the Padres are still six games behind in the race for a Wild Card spot. Even if they make it that far, it’s no guarantee they’ll get into the playoffs. If Mike were to choose the right team, he could be on his way to the World Series, for what may be the last chance of his career. In the end, there’s another factor that seems to push him towards his final decision: Ginny.
Apparently this tradition goes back decades in the Padres clubhouse. I do wonder when they have time for it though, considering rain delays are an extremely rare occasion in San Diego’s baseball history. Nevertheless, the court was a nice way to break the monotony of the cabin fever I’m sure the players were feeling – I say I’m sure only because I was starting to feel it from the episode itself. It allowed for some levity in an otherwise tenuous hour, but its true purpose was as a device to reveal Mike’s affection for Ginny.
When a fellow Padre admits he has feelings for Ginny, Blip and Mike take it upon themselves to knock some sense into him. You can’t love someone if you don’t know them, Mike argues, and then proceeds to list a number of things he’s learned about Ginny. Some of those things even come as a surprise to Blip, who’s known her much longer. Mike claims just because he’s spent hundreds of hours talking to her, doesn’t mean he’s falling in love, but the facial expressions from Blip and the other player beg the audience to think otherwise. As does the blissful glance Mike gives Ginny, as she hums Katy Perry’s “Firework” in such an off-key tone that you’d have to listen very closely to figure out what song it was. Which is exactly what Mike has done, and probably a few dozen times.
So, when Mike says “Chicago” to Oscar, one could easily assume he’s recognized his feelings for Ginny, and has perhaps been partly opposed to leaving the Padres because of her. Deciding to focus on his career is definitely the right move, for both him and the story itself. Unlike many other aspects of the episode, the progression of the will-they won’t-they between Mike and Ginny feels completely natural. It’s a perfectly believable way to drag out this will-they won’t-they dynamic as well, which is not always an easy thing for a show to achieve. My only concern is how the show may change to keep his character part of the story; even if Mike truly does switch teams, Mark-Paul Gosselaar is certainly not going anywhere.
Home Plate just sounded too corny
Will Baker’s whereabouts during this huge time in his sister’s career, has always felt like a large gap in Ginny’s story throughout the series thus far. This episode finally gives us some insight into this mystery, sort of, but it forces us to reconsider what we really know about him. As far as we knew, Will seemed like an extremely loyal brother who would set his own pride aside for Ginny’s advancement. After this episode, it seems as though Will has no problem using his sister’s fame and fortune for his own progress. I wouldn’t go as far as saying his character experienced a retcon, but this episode definitely put him in a new, and very unexpected light. It’s not his major issues with debt that give me pause – that would be entirely unfair – it’s because he seems so cavalier about that fact, and so ready to run away from its consequences. It’s the way he treats Amelia so poorly after willingly taking her money, and in the way he seems to have appeared, almost out of thin air, back into Ginny’s life.
Now, to be fair, Ginny’s immediate reassurance that she’s on board with Will’s restaurant venture seems to suggest that she and her brother have never been out of touch. Their conversations, however, are happening off-screen and have never been mentioned, so it’s not as easy for the audience to hop on board. It’s much easier for us to side with Amelia, who has proven to always have Ginny’s best interests at heart. (She is starting to walk a fine line between protecting her client, and overstepping her boundaries when it comes to Ginny’s agency altogether, though.) This plot does feel extremely manipulative on the writers’ part, and I’m not a fan of the forced tension it creates between Amelia and Will, and therefore, between Amelia and Ginny. Pitch has already been down this road, with Ginny and Amelia at odds, and I’m not sure we need anymore of it. Hopefully this is the last time we see people keeping secrets from Ginny; she’s grown, she can handle herself.
- Oscar’s relationship with Al’s daughter is a bit of out left field, no? I hope it goes somewhere more interesting than just causing problems between Oscar and Al. There’s already some friction between them due to work dynamics, so adding this to the mix feels forced and a bit unnecessary.
- Charlie is on my last nerve. I honestly don’t even understand why his character is needed, other than the dramatic tension he causes for Oscar. He should learn a little more about baseball before trying to be so large and in charge. Also, I hated Entourage with a fiery passion, so that might have some impact here.
- I love the way in which we’re learning more about Livan through bits and pieces of dialogue between him and other characters. It’s heartbreaking to think about athletes like him who’ve had to skip saying goodbyes to people they love, so they can defect from their homes at a moment’s notice. We don’t need an entire plot around this to feel the emotional impact, and it’s a great way to slowly build his great character.
- Pitch needs to be better at choosing its wink-wink, nudge-nudge moments. Mike wanting to be traded to Chicago after the real team just won the World Series is great. (Yes, there are two Chicago teams, but until we’re told otherwise I choose to believe he meant the Cubs.) Rain starting to fall as soon as Mike says it will never happen, is just way too much.
Pitch S1E8 = 7.7/10