At the age of eleven, only a few things in my life were constant—not school, or friends. What I always had, though, was sports. Every morning at 5:15 a.m., I would run down the stairs and sit with my dad as he watched SportsCenter. “Who’s that guy?” “What was the score?” “How did he make that?” That was my morning routine.
But as we watched every morning, something became obvious. Only two of the people I watched during the hour long broadcast were women— and neither of these women were athletes, agents or GMs.
Women have always been a fickle topic in sports. Either they are on the sideline, interviewing the game winner, or they are on the second side of a new story—the wives that are never seen until their husbands abuse them.
Fox’s newest television show, Pitch, turns the stereotypes I’ve become comfortable with on their head. Pitch introduces a new, but unfortunately fictional, life: a woman playing professional baseball. And winning.
Pitch is the story of Ginny Baker, a talented pitcher who got drawn up to the majors after spending years in the San Diego Padres’ farm system. As a show about the first woman to ever play in the MLB, viewers, including me, assumed the story was fantastical: a girl who has superhuman strength, defying the female body and becoming the superwoman of baseball. That is not Pitch.
Pitch is gritty in the way that people describe Matthew Delledova’s play. It is a story about the difficulties of being a rookie in a world filled with different people who all have different ideas about how you should be playing.
While Ginny is a woman, her gender is often a nuisance, not a blessing. She is not the superwoman the show’s audience, and the fictional audience, expect her to be. She loses her first game. She breaks under pressure. Her fastball will never be fast enough.
But neither is Kyle Hendricks’ fastball. Or Dan Haren’s. While the audience places Ginny above her teammates, the show constantly reminds you that Ginny wants to be, and is, just another baseball player.
And that is refreshing in a world filled with exaggerated female characters created just to make women viewers feel better. Women want female characters to be complex—with the same flaws and strengths male characters have, because that is actually what feminism is about.
The writers and directors on Pitch are not perfect, but they are near close. The characters feel realistic, with the emotional depth of real humans, and the baseball is beyond accurate. How can a girl actually pitch in the majors? What kind of pressure does this lifestyle put on the families of players? Pitch explores every part of the MLB that I have always wondered about.
Thanks to FOX having MLB rights, Pitch also has the opportunity to mix in real with fiction. As All-Star week begins, Ginny and company are placed into real life situations—such as Ginny giving up a home run to Salvador Perez that Perez actually hit off of Johnny Cueto, or her teammate making the roster because of the Cubs’ Dexter Fowler’s hamstring injury that pulled him out of this year’s All-Star Game.
Pitch mixes storylines in with 2016 season in a way that any fan, from casual to super, can easily connect to real life.
For non-fans, games are rarely the important storylines for Ginny. Instead, it focuses on her relationships— with her parents, her teammates or agent. Whether she is in the midst of a beanball debacle or arguing with mother about missing her calls, any person can relate.
Pitch is just a show about baseball, and for some reason, it’s broad storyline is what makes it most special.
Watch for yourself every Thursday at 9 p.m. on FOX.