Fox has officially canceled its baseball drama Pitch after one 10-episode season. Despite good reviews and a captivating premise, the show was never able to find its footing with viewers; it averaged a 0.8 live-plus-same day Nielsen rating in the 18-49 demo and three million total viewers per episode.
While it might be a tad over-dramatic, I am truly upset about Pitch being canceled. Besides being one of my favorite new shows of the season, Fox gave up on a show that could make a significant impact on pop culture. Putting Pitch on Thursday night did it no favors. Whether it was against NFL football or the Shonda Rhimes juggernaut on ABC, the show was not given a fair shot. With that being said, here are ten reasons why I would have loved to see Pitch renewed.
1. You Didn’t Need To Know or Understand Baseball
Yes, Pitch tells the story of the first female in Major League Baseball, but it’s so much more than that. In all honesty, the show does not even put that much emphasis on the actual sport, so you don’t need to be a baseball expert to enjoy it. The show is more about Ginny and her struggle in a professional sport dominated by men. It’s a show about Amelia, the agent, Mike, the veteran catcher, and Blip, the all-star outfielder, and how they all intertwine with Ginny’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So, whether or not you knew anything about baseball, Pitch could still entertain you.
2. The Baseball Part was Ridiculously Good
Even though Pitch is not directly about baseball, the baseball that was featured on the show was ridiculously good. As a hardcore sports fanatic, I can appreciate all of the work that went into making the detailed and dynamic backdrop to Ginny’s plot look effortlessly realistic. Fox had a deal with Major League Baseball that allowed the show to film in its stadiums, use official uniforms, team names, logos and even umpires. A crew from Fox Sports even filmed the action in the same way they film real MLB games. Even most of the extras were played by Minor League or former college athletes. This authenticity worked. The baseball looked ridiculously good every episode and made Pitch that much more realistic.
3. Kylie Bunbury
Kylie Bunbury held her own, playing one of the best female protagonists I have seen in a long time. Ginny Baker is multi-layered and groundbreaking, while simultaneously being sensible and never forgetting where she came from. Bunbury brought such strength, vulnerability, and athleticism to the role that Ginny became a character who was both remarkable and relatable; this could be seen in some of the choices Ginny made that would have been distinctly unsympathetic if Bunbury hadn’t added depth to them.
Kylie Bunbury’s work is even more remarkable when you consider the enormous pressure she was under as an actress. She is a young woman, and person of color, who was tasked with anchoring a series unlike anything else on prime time and she did a consistently fabulous job as its leading lady. She deserved more than one season to show off what she could do as Ginny. I truly believe Pitch would have been a flop if not for Kylie Bunbury.
4. Mark-Paul Gosselaar
I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t recognize Mark-Paul Gosselaar the first time I watched the pilot. He made quite the transformation to play Mike Lawson, which included bulking up and growing a beard. But it was not just his look that helped viewers forget his Saved by the Bell Zack Morris; it was Gosselaar’s nuanced performance of an aging, legendary catcher trying to make it through one final season. Mike could have been a shallow sketch of an older player who has seen it all and made no apologies for his behavior. Instead, the character started off as one of the series’ strongest personalities, and only became more layered from there, thanks in large part to Gosselaar’s portrayal. I’ve had this conversation with multiple people and all agree: Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Mike Lawson is proof that an actor can have more than one iconic, memorable role in a career.
5. Strong Supporting Cast
While Kylie Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar were fantastic as the leads, the supporting cast was just as incredible. Ginny’s hard-ass and super protective agent, Amelia (Ali Lanter), and lovable social media guru, Eliot (Tim Jo), were two standouts. Ginny’s pseudo-family members, Blip (Mo McRae) and Evelyn (Meagan Holder), might be my two favorite characters in the series and are total #relationshipgoals. Al (Dan Lauria), Oscar (Mark Consuelos), and Charlie (Kevin Connolly) gave a fascinating look into the inner workings of a professional sports team. And Ginny’s journey to win over her teammates was one highlight from the show.
6. It’s Incredibly Diverse
It sucks that in 2017 I still have to list diversity as a reason to watch a television show, but I do and Pitch definitely fit the bill. Pitch not only showcased a female character of color as its lead, but it had a cast filled with complex characters from various backgrounds; Ginny, Oscar, Blip, Tim, and Evelyn were all non-white characters with purpose. In addition to racial diversity, the show also addressed class, as many of the characters went from poor or modest backgrounds to being wealthy playing baseball. Pitch’s exploration of class was particularly prevalent in Oscar’s character and in flashbacks to Ginny’s growing up years. But the best part of all: the cast and characters were not diverse for diversity’s sake; rather their representation was organic and realistic. I’m going to miss seeing these people on my television every week.
7. Compelling Storytelling
Despite the fear that Pitch couldn’t sustain itself due to its subject matter, the show proved, in its short run, that it was more than just a sports drama; it was about life, love, and friendship. That focus extended beyond Ginny, with strong storytelling arcs for all the characters. We saw Lawson struggle as an older All-Star who wanted to keep his spot behind the plate, even as a younger talent was brought on to the team. With the Sanders family, we saw Blip’s life as a player, Evelyn’s life as a baseball wife, and the struggle for both to balance work and home. Off the field we saw older coach Al try to prove his relevance. Every episode intrigued me with the stories being told.
8. It Nailed Platonic Friendship
Pitch could have easily made Ginny the romantic interest of every single guy on the team. Thankfully, they didn’t. One of the best things about the show was watching the guys slowly come to accept and respect Ginny as an equal. There were a myriad of platonic friendships to choose from. Ginny and Tommy went from adversaries to friends, and Mike acted as her mentor and confidante. However, the strongest of all was the friendship between Blip and Ginny. Kylie and Mo had great chemistry and the friendship between their characters was a true highlight.
9. It Also Nailed the Female Friendships
The women of Pitch were some of the best on television. They were great as individuals, but together they were strong and I couldn’t get enough. Ginny and Evelyn had arguably the best friendship, while Ginny and Amelia had a unique bond, one filled with tension, love, and support. There was even a mutual admiration and respect between Ginny and Rachel (Mike’s ex-wife). The best part? Not all of their conversations were about boys. Score one for progress!
10. It’s Not Preachy.
Pitch could easily have been a constant barrage of socially charged issues. Fortunately, it was nothing like that. The show discussed sexism and feminism with an ease I appreciated. I didn’t feel like I was being beaten over the head. Instead, Pitch realistically addressed issues in concert with everything else going on. The sexism Ginny faced, both overt and subtle, was easily relatable, even though I had no desire to be a professional athlete. Ginny also acknowledged the tremendous pressure and scrutiny she was under as both a woman and, more specifically, a black woman. I also appreciated how the show explored different viewpoints. When it addressed issues, no one was ever made out to be a bad guy, which was refreshing to see.
BONUS: The Naked Photoshoot
This was the best thing I’d seen on television in a long time. I’m 100% serious when I say I got emotional watching that scene. Here’s the context: after Ginny’s unexpected celebrity a hacker stole uncovered nude photos she’d taken years ago. To get ahead of them being leaked, Ginny and Amelia set up a naked photo shoot, which would be part of ESPN Magazine’s prominent “body issue” and would send out a message of empowerment rather than embarrassment. The episode turned something that could have been uncomfortable into something unexpected when the rest of her Padres arrived in bathrobes, ready to strip down and support their teammate.The whole situation then became fun and uplifting. Putting Ginny and her male peers into the same boat is just one example of how Pitch treated their leading lady with respect, something I wish there was more of on my screen.
What do you guys think? Are you as sad as I am? Let me know in the comments below.