Thursday, October 13, 2016

REVIEW: 'Pitch' - Ginny & Blip Make the All-Star Team While Mike Worries About His Future in 'The Break'

FOX's Pitch - Episode 1.04 "The Break"

Mike suffers an injury that could affect his spot in the MLB All-Star Game. Ginny struggles to find a balance between her baseball career and her personal life. Members of the Padres are blindsided when Oscar signs Livan Duarte, a superstar catcher from Cuba.

Throughout these opening episodes of Pitch, there has been a lot of casual talk about the All-Star Game. Not so much that it took up a lot of screen time or needed its own actual story. But enough to realize that the show has planning on doing an episode about the game. It's just somewhat surprising that it's the basic premise for the fourth episode of the season. This game has been of huge concern to both Blip and Mike. Meanwhile, Ginny has just been worrying about being a part of the team. She's making history but she also just wants to fit in with the rest of the Padres. And now, all three of them have been named to the all-star team for the national league. Blip and Mike for their actual achievements and Ginny because she's the superstar of the moment. It does feel realistic that Ginny would get in the game because of a social media campaign. It's just a little too silly to watch the folks at MLB headquarters watching a sappy video to get that point across. Of course, the actual game is only a minor part about the overall episode. Instead, "The Break" is much more intrigued by what the future holds for all of these characters and how the All-Star Game will help define that. That ambition makes this hour the most successful one since the series premiere.

This isn't something that Ginny was expecting at all. When the roster came out, she wasn't on it. She was later called up because of the story and attention it would bring to the game. Everyone else there made it because of their skills. She's just there to sell tickets and bring in major ratings. It's something fans of the sport clearly want. Ginny is changing the face of the game. But this sudden change also disrupts her life in some major ways. Baseball has always been the single most important thing to do. That was a mentality drilled into her at a young age by her father. The premiere showed that he was a tough and brutal man. He never showed any excitement because he didn't see her accomplishments as anything special. And now, he's not alive to see any of the success she has playing in the majors. She's in the All-Star Game. That's a big deal. It's a moment Blip has been dreaming about for his entire career. But it also means Ginny won't be able to spend the weekend with her mother. That's what her plans were going to be until this change to the roster occurred.

The flashbacks so far have only fleshed out Ginny's relationship with her father. Her mother has been kept in secrecy almost. Ginny growing up to be a professional baseball player probably wasn't what her mother was expecting when she had a daughter. So, her reaction to all of this is important too. Plus, she's the one parent who is still alive. Baseball has defined her life just as much as it's defined Ginny's. Her mother was there for her father during his career. She was there when Ginny was training and becoming a rising star in the sport. And now, she's here for Ginny as she steps onto the national stage. But Ginny's mother also wants more for her than a life of baseball. The sport destroyed her marriage long before her husband was killed in an accident. She was cheating on him and is still in a relationship with the guy. She believes the affair is still a secret but Ginny has known all along. It's part of the reason why she ran away from her mother. When she was young, she couldn't understand how her mother could cheat on her father. As she's gotten older, she has gotten wiser. But it still takes a lot for her to realize that her mother isn't a judgmental or bad person like she has thought over the years.

The situation certainly is tough between Ginny and her mother. Ginny can't spend any time with her. So, her mother basically spends the weekend touring the city with Elliot. That's a subplot that really isn't given any screen time. Ginny is busy preparing for the big game. But she clearly doesn't want to spend any time alone with her mother. She makes sure other people are there to serve as blockers. She doesn't have a relationship with her mother. That riff started all those years ago when Ginny learned about the affair. And yet, Ginny still wants to look out into the crowd and see her mother cheering her on. She still needs that appreciation and gratification. She still needs that relationship from her mother. But she's not there. Ginny's game suffers because of it. The only important moment from the All-Star Game is Ginny letting a hitter hit a home run. That's the big moment from the game. It happened because Ginny was distracted. She's young and still getting used to all of this new pressure. She's still just a rookie playing against seasoned veterans. Her presence may be good for the game. But it hasn't been good for her personal life. She's had to make her own path. It's one that's been complicated by broken relationships along the way. But she still wants to make things right with her mother. Fortunately, she is given that chance.

Elsewhere, Mike's troubled knees and back keep him from playing in the game. That has been a defining characteristic for him in these opening episodes. He's an aging player who isn't as good as he used to be. He can still get into the All-Star Game. He still has the support of his hometown. But he also knows that he only has one or two more seasons left in him. He needs to start thinking of what comes next for him. He has been so crucial in helping Ginny with this major transition. But now, he's facing a transition of his own. One that he doesn't know if he'll be capable of doing. Baseball has been everything to him. And now, it's at risk of being taken away from him. Baseball has been a great thing for him. It made him famous. But he's also been isolated because of it. He has no one to come home to. He has found some happiness with Amelia as of late. They go well together. It's starting to become a serious relationship even though they are hiding it from the rest of the world. Amelia could be a good thing for him too because she knows how to help him transition to the next stage of his career. She could get opportunities for him to be a sports commentator. She could open that world for him. She realizes just how quickly that move needs to happen. He's failing apart after sex. She sees the pain he's in. She's the one who convinces him not to play. She gets him the job on the after show discussing how the game went. But it's up to Mike to succeed in this new career.

It's definitely a struggle for Mike. It doesn't come as naturally as the sport does. He has to be a different persona onscreen talking about the game. He knows the stats. He knows how to play. But now, he has to figure out how to communicate his opinion about the sport in a way a broad audience can understand. The pressure gets to him. He is able to deliver an impassioned speech about Ginny's big moment during the game. He knows just how difficult and stressful all of that was for her. He has a deeper insight into her psyche than anyone else in the world. She's stubborn and challenging but also inspiring. It's a rousing moment for Mike. But it's also a moment that could mark the end of his career as a catcher. It's in that moment where he learns that Oscar has signed a new superstar catcher every team was hoping to land. So, Mike may not have another one or two seasons of the game left. He may be forced out soon. Oscar is really excited about this new player. He can relate to him because they had similar upbringings. He can help make San Diego feel like home because he understands the world this guy came from. It's something Oscar clearly wants. That does clash with Mike who isn't ready to step down yet. A clash is coming though. The clock is counting down. And once that happens, it should have major consequences for the entire team.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Break" was written by Rick Singer and directed by Regina King.
  • Blip really wanted to make the All-Star team. It was his dream for his entire career. And now, he can't be happy about making the team because it means ruining his family's vacation to Disney World. It's just a minor part of the overall episode. And it's really not all that complicated in the end. He's able to do both.
  • Evelyn yelling at Blip because her entire life is defined by his career was a strong, character building moment. She has to be supportive of him while also caring for their two sons. And now, when he's actually around to help, he's choosing to leave once again.
  • Al telling Ginny the story about how he met his wife is his only moment of the episode. But it's really a fantastic monologue for him. She may no longer be alive. But he has lived a wonderful life already because she gave him a pity date.
  • Oscar taking the head off of a doll and cutting most of its hair off is definitely a weird scene that plays so much better once the context is actually known.
  • Al was able to keep his job but it doesn't seem like Frank was able to. Of course, that reveal happens in a throwaway piece of dialogue. So the audience really doesn't have to think too much about it.
  • The flashbacks really helped the main story of the episode this week. Again, they don't need to be utilized in every episode. Last week they were annoying. Here, they helped provide a lot of great context to the story between Ginny and her mom.