It’s a shame Season 1 of “Pitch” is only 10 episodes, but if we’re comparing it to an average baseball game, technically FOX is already giving viewers an extra inning. While not yet Hall of Fame worthy, the rookie series has had a fantastic first outing. The positives have ultimately outweighed the negatives and fingers are crossed that we get to see Ginny Baker (Kylie Danbury) and her time with the San Diego Padres continue in a second season.
While we know Mike Lawson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) isn’t being traded to Chicago, there are still a lot of major questions left to be answered going into this final episode. We predict that many of them will either be left unresolved, or settled with an unhappy ending. “Pitch” is not a feel-good sports movie. It definitely has its heartwarming, tear-inducing beauiftul moments, but for the most part, it has taken a much more gritty, you can’t win ’em all realistic type of stance.
Based on the previews for Thursday’s finale episode, “Don’t Say It,” there’s one major thing we can expect to happen: Ginny’s debut season is going to be shut down.
This is not personal, nor does it have anything to do with Ginny being a woman — it’s entirely about her being a young rookie. Pitching is one of the most freakishly strange physical activities a professional sports player can do. It’s such an intense strain — on only one arm — and even if players keep the rest of their body extremely well conditioned, they are still at extreme risk for a tear or strain that could require season-ending or even career-ending surgeries.
For this reason, there is a standard MLB pitch limit for rookies. For individual games, managers usually pull young arms after 100 pitches. Even if they are working through a no-hitter during the 7th inning. (Yes, we’re talking about Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulling Ross Stripling this past season. And also Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly pulling 25-year-old Adam Conley after 8 inning of a no-hitter. A mere 3 outs away from earning an illustrious perfect game in only his 16th start).
Ginny, even if she was throwing ace games, would still not have immunity from this rule.
In addition to individual game pitch limits, there are rookie standard innings limit. New arms are typically capped at around 160 innings, and it doesn’t matter if the team is in the playoffs or not. (There isn’t a fan in Washington who doesn’t remember Dusty Baker benching Nationals superstar pitcher Stephen Strasburg, merely as a precaution after getting successful Tommy John surgery the year prior.) Pitchers need to slowly be built up. Risking a player’s long, promising career for one season of glory — it just doesn’t pay.
Ginny is worth millions upon millions to the Padres, and she has to be able to play to attain her cash cow status. People don’t show up to the ballpark to see someone sit on the bench. And Ginny is such an enigma, seats will fill up even if she keeps throwing terrible games. But she has to at least be able to take the mound and throw the ball for a few innings: Ginny could easily get sloppy from exhaustion, get lazy with her form and blow out her arm trying to get the Padres to the wildcard spot. If this happens, everyone loses. She’d lose the entire next season to surgery and rehab. The entire club franchise will suffer.
It’s reasonable for Ginny to be shortsighted and overeager — and to flip out when manager Al (Dan Lauria) tells her that her season is done. And it’s Al’s job as her well-respected and highly knowledgeable boss to be able to hold strong, and give Ginny a hard “No.”
If she’s smart, she will listen. To willingly put herself and the team in such a perilous position is stupid. We all remember the camera trick she pulled last week in order to swindle Mike one more at-bat even though he was benched — hopefully, for her career’s sake, she won’t pull another risky move like that. This time, she’d just be aiming at herself.
The Season 1 finale of “Pitch” airs on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.