Last Night, FOX announced it had made the decision to cancel the freshman baseball drama Pitch. The decision was greeted with anger and shock by fans, who noted the critical praise the show received, as well as a star making turn by show star Kylie Bunbury and an especially strong performance by Zack Morris himself, Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Angry fans pointed fingers at FOX’s particularly shitty treatment of the show, and the fact that Pitch’s ratings weren’t even among the network’s lowest. Even as the cast promoted the show and fans tirelessly hyped up the show on social media (BIG UP, PITCH STREET TEAM!), FOX bizarrely chose to not promote the show and shelve it at random times, even opting to air the Lethal Weapon series after the World Series as opposed to its, you know…show about baseball. To add a final insult to injury, show stars Kylie Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar chose to sit out pilot season out of good faith, hoping that their show would be picked up. They were paid in dust.
The show’s end is especially painful for viewers of color, who saw themselves reflected in the diverse cast, where a black woman was the hero of the piece, a Latino was the brains behind the team and spoke Spanish freely, an Asian man wasn’t regulated to a stereotype, and black love was shown and celebrated. Women stick together and have healthy, loving friendships, there were no catfights here. Even with a will-they won’t-they back and forth between Ginny and team captain Mike Lawson, there were many friendships between men and women, most notably the one between Ginny and her best friend, teammate Blip. And perhaps most importantly, a black woman is loved and desired and protected by those around her, a sad rarity in all forms of media.
It was a show not so much about baseball than about real issues, as Ginny openly struggles with mental health issues after crumbling under the pressure put upon her by her overbearing father and the crowd and team who loved her. Mike Lawson, the team captain, struggles with depression and loneliness. Blip and wife Evelyn’s relationship issues aren’t about infidelity but about sacrifices and money and their loyalty to each other was never in question. It was nice to see a show about real issues, which respected its audience as to not shove tired tropes at them for drama.
Pitch, from the creators of the amazing This is Us, was a show ultimately about life, and the pressures, hardships and pleasures of it. Ginny finds family, friendship and love with her team, a motley crew of players full of loyalty and love of the game. She finds her potential (non-romantic or romantic, you make the call) soul mate with Mike, an equally crabby ballplayer whose love of the game seems to be more excessive than most, but who isn’t sure if he has much left in him, a constant theme of the first season with both Ginny and Mike. And it was about Ginny Baker, who beat the odds without losing herself and who was allowed to be flawed and human while she was busy being a pitching superwoman. She was a role model to both little girls and women alike, and to those who saw themselves in her.
Ginny, and this beautiful, wonderful show, will be missed. I’m sorry you weren’t given the chance you deserved. It is a shame FOX didn’t see what gold they had.
As the show cast and crew leave their thank you’s and sad goodbyes on social media, I leave you with a final word from Pitch’s breakout star, Kylie Bunbury. I and many others will miss you, Pitch!