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Pitch: “Beanball”

The new show burns its biggest cliche on the third episode.

FOX Broadcasting Company

It was only a matter of time before Pitch put Ginny Baker at risk in the batter’s box, but I expected it to wait for November sweeps, not the third episode. There’s some good bits in this episode, but the baseball stuff falls flat.

The episode opens in media res as Ginny walks up to the plate, with Dick Enberg and Mark Grant noting that she’s in the middle of a “beanball war,” a phrase I’m pretty sure hasn’t been said in the last thirty years. They also mention that it’s bench coach Buck Garland’s first game as manager, seemingly sealing Al “Wonder Years” Luongo’s fate. Then the pitch is thrown and the show cuts to black, right before backing up seven hours. If you groaned there, you’re not alone.

TV shows have been doing the “something is bad, let’s rewind and show how we got there” thing for a long, long time, and just about everything that could be done with the concept has been. The writers are practically screaming that Ginny doesn’t get hit and Al doesn’t get fired. It would have been a whole lot more interesting if the show had started with the obvious follow up to episode two’s conclusion: Amelia and Lawson in bed. The two are the first of several relationship dramas the episode revolves around.

The driving force of the episode is Trevor, the one player Ginny ever dated. They grew close in the minors, with Trevor planning to quit baseball and go to college, but reneging on that promise when he gets traded and has a shot at making the big leagues with the Cardinals. It’s a solid story about how much harder every part of being a baseball player is for Ginny than her male peers. The flashbacks work better than the on-field drama, where she insists on throwing a retaliatory pitch at the Cardinals starter. When St. Louis reliever “The Mountain” (not to be confused with Gregor Clegane) refuses to hit her back, she charges the mound and starting a brawl, earning the respect of team asshole Tommy.

Meanwhile, the reason Luongo isn’t managing the game? He got tossed while delivering the lineup card. It might be the best moment of the episode, as he ridicules the home plate ump’s vision until he gets ejected. It’s all a setup so he can spend the game getting face time with the team’s majority owner, Maxine (played by Wendie Malick, who is fantastic, both in general and in the role). Al makes the case that if he goes, it’ll look like Ginny forced him out, and that’s bad for the team, for Ginny, and for PR. Maxine buys it, and gets Frank to back off on Al.

And then there’s Oscar. The show clearly has no idea what to do with Mark Consuelos, because he’s supposed to bring comedy and drama this episode, and he has a hard enough time doing either of those things alone. He spends most of the episode trying to find someone who can translate Korean so he can send down a player who doesn’t speak any English (the punchline, of course, being that Al does). And then at the end of the episode, he has to tell his young daughter (there to meet Ginny) that he and her mother won’t be getting back together. But we don’t really know anything about Oscar’s family life, and this is Daniella’s first episode, in which she gets about a dozen lines. There’s no investment in either of these characters, so the moment falls totally flat.

The hour ends with a bombshell, as Ginny’s old flame Trevor tells her that he’s been hacked... and he still had photos from their time together. So check off another square on your Pitch plotlines bingo card.

Next week, we finally get back to Ghost Dad as Ginny is selected to the All-Star Game.