“Pitch” Episode 3: Unwritten Rules

Earlier recaps: Episode 1 / Episode 2.

Welcome to our recap of the third episode of “Pitch”, entitled “Beanball”. As always, there are spoilers, so read at your own risk.

In this week’s episode, Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) has to reckon with two unwritten rules: one that’s long been established throughout the league, and one that she’s set for herself.

Pitcher Tommy Miller (Ryan Dorsey) is close to returning from the disabled list, and the timing couldn’t be more fortuitous. That day, the Padres are facing the guy responsible for putting him there, Cardinals right-hander Theo Falcone.

Ginny is starting for San Diego, and though she and Tommy have had their differences, she wants to stand up for her teammate. Ginny informs her catcher, Mike (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), of her desire to even the score while the two are going over their game plan, but Mike advises against it. “This isn’t the game for payback,” he says. “A wiffle ball would hurt more than any pitch you throw.” Ginny is annoyed, yet undeterred. (We also learn from this scene that Ginny throws a curveball, which Mike refers to as a “rainbow.”)

Ginny receives a text from someone who will be the focus of this week’s flashbacks. While with the Missions in 2014, Ginny met Trevor Davis (Shamier Anderson), a catcher for the Arkansas Travelers (then the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels). Their chemistry was obvious, but Ginny was hesitant to go out with him, since her policy is to not date other ballplayers.

Flashing forward, general manager Oscar (Mark Consuelos) has a busy day ahead of him. He’s received orders from team owner Frank (Bob Balaban) to fire the manager, Al (Dan Lauria), as soon as possible. Oscar also has to inform Woo-Jin Kim (Daniel Chan Kim), who’s “hitting a buck eighty and can’t seem to catch a fly ball,” that he’s being sent to the minors to make room for Tommy. However, Kim’s translator is out with the flu, and Oscar must find someone who can speak Korean. To make matters more complicated, Oscar’s daughter, Daniella (Isabella Day), has come to the ballpark to see Ginny pitch.

Al is aware that he’s all but lost his job. That tension boils over during pregame lineup exchanges, when he gets into it with the home-plate umpire and gets tossed before the game even starts.

Al decides to use this time to try to convince one of the team’s owners, Maxine Armstrong (Wendie Malick), to save his job — at least, for the remainder of the season. He points out that, if he’s fired now, it will look like it was because Ginny wanted him gone, which Maxine concedes.

Meanwhile, in the game, Theo Falcone is throwing too close to Padres batters again. In the top of the fifth, with the score 4-1 in favor of San Diego, Ginny nails Falcone in the back with an 87-mph fastball. The home-plate umpire issues warnings to both teams, and Falcone issues one of his own to Ginny, saying “You’re next, girlfriend” as he makes his way to first. Blip (Mo McRae) and Mike are upset with Ginny, but she seems to have earned some amount of respect from Tommy.

Bench coach Buck (Jack McGee), filling in as manager for the ejected Al, has to decide whether to let Ginny bat for herself in the bottom of the fifth, knowing she’ll likely be thrown at. Ginny insists on staying in, noting she still has at least two innings left. “This isn’t my first beanball game,” she asserts (though she shortly thereafter reveals that it’s “totally” her first beanball feud).

It’s not Falcone Ginny will face, though. The Cardinals make a double switch, and bring in Greg “The Mountain” Mount (Justen Naughton), a big righty who throws 98 mph, along with his preferred catcher. Once a closer, Mount lost that role due to “having problems getting the ball over the plate.” We learn that he leads the league in hit batsmen.

As Mount enters the game, the Petco Park video board shows Mount’s face in front of a backdrop of flames with loud music blaring. While obviously done for dramatic effect, this isn’t particularly believable — when do home teams ever have special graphics and music for visiting players? That said, the actor who plays Mount is a 6-foot-6 professional basketball player, and, indeed, cuts an imposing figure on the mound.

This is the first time we see Ginny in the batter’s box. We don’t get to see her swing the bat, but we do get to observe her stance a bit, and notice that she stands very far back in the box. Ginny is, unsurprisingly, not too handy with the bat — “0-for-the-summer,” observes Dick Enberg.

Mount’s first pitch to Ginny is a 97-mph heater that’s up and in. His next two pitches, however, are in the low 90s, and way outside. “Is he scared of hurting me?” Ginny asks the Cardinals’ new catcher. “Are you afraid of hurting me?” The catcher removes his mask to have a word with her. It’s none other than Ginny’s old flame, Trevor.

While Ginny had originally rejected Trevor’s advances, she decided to go for it when he told her he planned to quit after the season. The two began a fling, and Ginny even attended one of his games as a fan (on what must have been an off day for San Antonio).

During that game, Trevor got pulled early. He had been traded to the Cardinals, and would be joining their Triple-A affiliate. (In something of a semantic error, Trevor says he’s been “traded to Memphis,” which isn’t how it actually works — you’re traded to an organization, and then they decide where to place you.) Trevor accidentally revealed to Ginny that he never really planned to quit, making Ginny feel angry and betrayed.

Back in the present, Mount throws another ball to walk Ginny. Ginny’s incensed that Mount wouldn’t throw at her, and, in a moment of questionable judgment, starts walking out towards the mound. When Trevor tries to stop her, Ginny pushes back. Tommy rushes from the dugout to tackle Trevor, and the benches clear. It’s a pretty realistic baseball scuffle, right down to the bullpens running in. (The staging of this scene is detailed in this interesting piece by Vulture.) Blip makes sure Ginny stays out of it, and the brawl is broken up fairly quickly, but Ginny and Tommy get ejected.

As the Padres brass watches this unfold, Maxine comes to have a word with Frank about Al. Frank has the authority to make Padres personnel decisions, but Maxine has the authority to fire Frank as CEO of her tech firm, which would, in turn, lead to Frank losing his position as the team’s control person. Frank threatens to make it a “messy divorce” — hey, apparently these two are married — and Maxine tells him that he’ll be missed. Frank, deciding to comply, finds Al and informs him that he needn’t worry about rumors of being let go.

Oscar still hasn’t managed to find anyone to tell Woo-Jin that he’s being demoted to El Paso. It turns out that Al speaks Korean — which seems like something Oscar ought to have been aware of — and is able to tell Woo-Jin, who is very understanding of the team’s decision.

Trevor tracks Ginny down, and apologizes for the way things ended two years back. But he also has some bad news: his online profiles had been hacked, and one of the things accessed was (presumably explicit) pictures of him and Ginny. The photos hadn’t been released yet, but it’s a new thing for Ginny to worry about.

Ginny and Mike catch up after the day’s events. Mike admits that, with any other pitcher, he would have been fully in favor of retaliating for Tommy’s injury. He then praises Ginny for how she’s handled everything she’s had to take on. Tommy and some of the other Padres ask Mike join them for drinks. Mike declines, and Tommy mock-reluctantly tells Ginny she can come along. Ginny accepts.

This episode of “Pitch” was busy, but fun. It doesn’t go too deep in its examination of “unwritten rules,” but it scratches the surface of exploring a still-prevalent element of baseball culture.

“Pitch” continues to do a good job showcasing the various moving parts of a ballgame, both on the field and behind the scenes. While overdramatized, it gives viewers an idea of the chaos involved with operating a major-league team.

The show still has flaws. Amelia (Ali Larter) running to the dugout during a game to try to get Mike to do something about Ginny’s situation felt somewhat implausible, even if Amelia isn’t supposed to know much about how baseball works. (Amelia and Mike hooked up the night before, by the way.)

In this episode, “Pitch” shows Buck speaking to the press in the manager’s office after the game. Major-league home-team managers tend to address the media postgame press-conference style. It’s a small detail, and doesn’t detract much from the story, but is still something that seems easy enough to get right.

While the game in this week’s episode was shown — once again, as a FS1 broadcast — it featured cameos by the 2016 Padres’ real broadcast team of Dick Enberg and Mark Grant (although Enberg retired at the end of this season).

Next week’s episode, entitled “The Break”, appears to revolve around the All-Star Game. Salvador Perez is featured in the promo, suggesting that we’ll see the first cameo (if not cameos) by actual current major leaguers.

Sarah Wexler is a contributor to Dodgers Digest. She recently earned her master's degree in Sports Management from Cal State Long Beach. She graduated from New York University in 2014 with a bachelor's in History and a minor in American Studies. Follow her on Twitter @SarahWexler32.

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As a large right-handed Cardinal reliever who throws 98 but lost the closer job due to control problems, was Mount supposed to be a reference to Trevor Rosenthal? That’s kind of mean if it was, since the guy was pitching hurt for the majority of the season.