Fall TV Preview

Pitch Team on 'Making the West Wing of Baseball,' Fielding Sexist Pushback

Fox’s Pitch is about Major League Baseball’s first female pitcher, but the action won’t always take place on the field.

Though the “very expensive” pilot went out of its way to employ actual Fox Sports technology and talent to sell the grand scale of a big-league match-up, executive producer Paris Barclay (who directed the first outing), says future drama will come from outside the baselines as much as between them.

“We’re making the West Wing of baseball here, showing you how it works but in a way that’s very personal,” Barclay said on Monday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. “It won’t always be about whether [Ginny Baker, played by Kylie Bunbury] wins this game or that game.” Evoking Aaron Sorkin’s White House drama again, EP Kevin Falls said there will be “some walk and talks” in the sprawling set built to mimic the belly of the Padres’ PETCO Park.

The cast and producers were also asked during their TCA panel if they anticipate any “pushback” from people who, for one reason or another, take issue with the very idea of a female MLB player.

“Who would really be against this?” asked exec producer Dan Fogelman. “If a young woman came along who’s capable of playing with the guys, I can’t think of a person who wouldn’t be interested in seeing it.”

As for how realistic Pitch‘s premise is, Fogelman said that although the limits of human anatomy “make it a challenge” (and are addressed in the pilot), “I think this is going to happen in my lifetime. I think the right young woman is going to come along, sooner rather than later.”

Other topics tackled during the Pitch panel:

* After landing the role of Ginny, Bunbury had two-and-a-half months to learn how to pitch. She, costar Mark-Paul Gosselaar (who plays the Padres’ catcher) and others train two to three times a week during production.

* Speaking of Gosselaar, his impressive beard was a dictate from Fogelman, who felt the Saved by the Bell alum “has been on our TVs an awful long time,” so “it felt like a cool physical transformation.” Plus, along with packed-on muscle, “He looks like a major league ballplayer,” which real-life pros have told Fogelman themselves.

* Fogelman said that the freshman series’ initial 13-episode order will lead up to the end of the (fictional) Padres’ baseball season. If there is a “back 9” pick-up, the episodes will cover spring training. Other storylines on tap include Ginny’s four-day routine between starts, the quality of her hitting (ignored in the pilot in part because Bunbury hadn’t trained for that yet), what it’s like for her to be targeted in a beanball brouhaha and trade deadlines/clauses. And while — spoiler alert! — these Padres will not be going to the World Series, they will “be relevant” within the league.

* Carefully talking around a pilot-ending development that he prays remains unspoiled, Fogelman’s hoped-for viewer reaction is, “I get this girl in a different way now.”

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26 Comments
  1. j says:

    The West Wing was Aaron Sorkin, not Spelling

  2. Ronnie Gardocki says:

    That the San Diego Padres will be “relevant” is the most unrealistic thing about this series.

  3. Kevin K says:

    Total disagreement on why people are looking forward to the show. Not my cup of tea if Pitch won’t last that long. No complaining

  4. jenndeve says:

    One of the few fall shows I’m definitely excited to see.

  5. michael says:

    Still not convinced. Sorry

  6. davido says:

    If they’re aiming at realistic, from what I’ve seen from promos, there is no way her “pitch” has enough velocity to be considered major league. They should lay off of social propaganda/feminist promotional approach. Best to tell a story with tongue-in-cheek suspension of disbelief.

    • Aeol says:

      There’s a scene in extended previews in which her dad talks about refining her throwing technique and style precisely because she can’t throw as fast. It’s also touched upon in the article above.

      • davido says:

        Technique and style…blah blah blah. Typical male pitchers at her age throws the ball at 85 mph, some at upwards of 90 mph. The show runners can talk about bringing reality to the show and what not, but if her pitches don’t have velocity, it’s just not realistic that she’d be in major leagues. I just roll my eyes.

        • Katherine215 says:

          Well, you’re ridiculously sexist, so no one cares what your eyes are doing anyway.

          • ohReally says:

            Oh sure Katherine, he’s sexist for stating biological fact, but you’d be the first to say a man shouldn’t hit a woman because they are stronger in general. Well princess, common sense will tell you that you need a certain physique to throw a baseball over 90mph. Apparently you let your typical, anti-male emotion get in the way of common sense.

        • KCC says:

          First, most major league pitchers throw over 90 mph. Second, what actor, male or female, can throw as hard as a major league pitcher? They can make Supergirl appear to fly, don’t you think, with special FX, Hollywood can make it appear a woman is throwing hard enough to make the major leagues. Her motion just has to look right. She doesn’t have to actually throw that hard.

  7. Maria says:

    As a woman and a 40-year fan of MLB (started watching with my dad when I was 6) I am definitely not interested in this. Major League Baseball is played by men. It’s been working just fine like that for well over 100 years. And if it ain’t broke…

    • florianques says:

      It’s progress, it’s all about being inclusive. If it doesn’t impact in the game itself, is there really anything wrong with that?
      (Plus, it’s fictional, but I wouldn’t mind if it were real.)

      • davido says:

        Inclusive? Professional sports is not like a chess club that unjustly bars inclusion of women. It’s just a matter of physiology. Serena Williams, #1 female tennis player in the world, will get destroyed by Roger Federer in a fair game. It’s not a social statement, it’s physiology. Realistically, a female body can never compete in professional baseball.

        The show should’ve made her becoming successful in college softball or something. That show, I’d watch. Not this, though. I find it too ridiculous, and heavy handed with cheesy social message.

    • Jamie says:

      The “this is how it’s always been done” argument is honestly the least sensible argument that exists. Only men voted in this country for over 100 years, and many proclaimed the system was working well – why extend voting rights to women if it ain’t broke? The US Congress was only comprised of men for over 100 years, and many proclaimed that the system was working. Our country has had only male presidents for over 200 years, and many proclaim that it’s working out just fine. The Boston Marathon was only completed by men for over 150 years, and many proclaimed that it was working just fine. Women coming along ruined nothing.
      .
      Honestly, it’s quite sad that any woman would proudly proclaim that she’s happy that women have been excluded from something for such a long time. If you have a problem with the physical realism of a woman in the MLB, then that is completely understandable. But saying that men have been doing something forever, so that’s how it should remain, is deplorable. I hope to the heavens you never tell your daughters/any little girls that they should just leave things to the boys.

      • Maria says:

        Deplorable? Wow. You take these things pretty seriously.
        I’m not talking about telling girls they can’t vote or become doctors or something. It’s baseball. Entertainment. Nothing more. As much as I enjoy it, if MLB disappeared tomorrow, life would go on as normal.
        Putting men up against women often leaves women at a disadvantage where upper-body strength is concerned. Also every stadium in North America ( 30 of them) would have to be revamped for locker room purposes.
        So I’ll keep watching the guys play ball and I’ll encourage my two daughters to do something they can actually SUCCEED at in life. YMMV.

        • Katherine215 says:

          Pretty sure a major league team can afford to build a small women’s locker room. And if your daughters want to play baseball, encourage them. Maybe they won’t “succeed” but the only failure is not trying.

        • Jamie says:

          If women only aimed for things with a guaranteed success probability, we wouldn’t get anywhere in life. We wouldn’t be able to vote or become doctors or run for president or buy a house without our father’s/husband’s approval. The first women who tried all of those things failed, yet we have progressed as a society because of them.
          And I meant it’s deplorable to discourage women to try anything, not specifically about baseball. If she fails, then she fails, but telling women to not try something just because it’s always been done by men is deplorable, and it’s degrading that you would put that baggage on your daughters.

    • John NYC says:

      And every President
      and most Supreme Court Justices have been men.

      Things change.
      And for the better.

      Plus: it’s an entertainment show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer? History need not apply.

    • Vanessa says:

      You realize this is a fictional show and they’re not actually changing Major League Baseball right?

  8. M3rc_Nate says:

    I’m excited, I love the concept and the lead actress but what bugs me is that this isn’t a mini-series. I don’t believe there is enough meat on the bones of this story to last 13 episodes in the first season then another 13 in season 2 and so on. I feel like this should be 2 seasons tops. Yes there should be a lot of sexism and maybe a splash of racism in this show, but at a certain point if it keeps getting hammered on our heads while we are in the middle of season 2 that will be getting really really old.

    • Jamie says:

      It depends on the showrunners though and their ability to move the story past the premise. I feel like there are a number of series that seemed to have limiting premises, and I found myself thinking that they should be movies or mini-series, but then the writers were able to move the series past their initial ideas and make it into a bigger story.
      Idk anything about these writers though, so who knows if they can pull it off.

    • John NYC says:

      It’s a workplace set piece. How much can be said about an office setting? Or a bar? Or a NYC apartment?

  9. Indra says:

    Ridiculous premise, complete Marxist propaganda from start to finish.
    A woman could not compete in the men’s major leagues as they’re just not strong enough, there will always be men much stronger and just as skilled if not more than the best woman.

    “The actress being interviewed predictably spouted the misandrist, Marxist “it’s the girl’s time”, “we need to inspire girls to do this” nonsense. She even said it’s come at the right time, meaning of course that the Marxist agenda of the ‘elite’ the divide and weaken society is fully underway and feminism, race-baiting, anti-religion and confusion of gender roles is key to this plan.