Ginny Baker is just trying to be one of the guys
As lead character Ginny Baker (played by Kylie Bunbury) navigates the MLB as the first female player
* This post contains spoilers.
The biggest question lingering from the first episode of “Pitch,” was how sustainable is a television show like this? In fairness, that’s a question most television shows face. I doubt people would have bet that “Grey’s Anatomy” would get to a 13th season, and by the way, the scripted program is still finding new material for the team at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.
“Pitch” invests in its characters’ backstories and relationships as a means of augmenting the center story of its lead character, Ginny Baker, who is trying to make it in the big leagues. The result is a rich, full series that provides additional options for character development.
In other words, “Pitch” is deep, y’all.
Plenty happened in the latest episode, which is aptly titled “The Interim,” but what really takes center stage is Baker struggling with the added media attention from “Ginsanity” — the corny cousin of “Linsanity” from 2012 — and how to use (or not to use) her elevated platform. No one can stop talking about her. The media wants her to comment on a sexual assault case in Florida; and a video of the Padres’ manager, Al, making sexist comments about her surfaces.
Through it all, she insists that she’s “one of the guys” and tells her agent, “I’m a ballplayer,” like she’s Monica from “Love & Basketball” yelling at Quincy.
Ginny Baker, however, is not “just one of the guys,” no matter how much she wants to be, and that’s not really what this is about anyway. Nestled within the conversations between Baker and her agent, teammate Mike Lawson’s rousing pregame speech, and the probable firing of Al (Dan Lauria) is some exploration of identity politics.
“The Interim” quietly asks, what does it really mean to be going through this experience as a woman, like Ginny Baker? What are her responsibilities? What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a captain? Are you still a good man if you’re politically incorrect? And what matters more … intent or impact?
The answers to those questions are the beating heart of the show “Pitch” strives to be. During a set visit in August, executive producer and showrunner Kevin Falls said “Pitch” was about “the human condition.” Identity politics are absolutely part of what make up the human experience, and the series certainly does not shy away from that.
While sitting across from real-life late show host Jimmy Kimmel, fictional character Ginny Baker says, “It seems like I’m making a statement just by existing lately.”
That’s a loaded statement, and something that is surely relatable to many people watching the show. Baker is caught between a rock and a hard place. She desperately wants to fit in with her teammates and play baseball, but she also is having to navigate a previously unwalked path, all the while attempting to hold on to her precarious situation as a recently called-up pitcher who could be sent down from the majors at any moment.
The struggle around identity, however, is not just limited to Baker. Her story is just the most prominent.
In an interesting scene, Padres owner Frank Reid (Bob Balaban) discusses manager Al’s fate with Oscar Arguella (Mark Consuelos), the GM. Reid comments to Arguella that in addition to his getting hired because he’s good at his job, he also “looks like Spanish Superman.”
“I’m Mexican,” Arguella responds.
A few moments later when Reid tells Arguella he doesn’t have him over for dinner because he doesn’t get close to his employees, Arguella says, “I thought it was because I’m Mexican.”
This is interesting, not only because Reid admits to not being color-blind and implies that he values a perspective of someone who is not a mirror reflection of himself, but also because Arguella has clearly questioned why he hasn’t been invited to his boss’ place for dinner. His own ethnicity is clearly salient to him, and his admission leaves viewers wondering what happened in his life to make him take pause at Reid’s distance.
This is an important and palpable moment at a time when American society struggles with wanting to be “color-blind” and how to deal with racial and ethnic diversity. This is not unlike the sentiment Ginny is navigating in trying to decide whether her gender matters. Of course it matters, and so does race.
What doesn’t matter is how much we try to mute pieces of ourselves. They shine through anyway.
It’s the response that counts.