Archive for “Pitch”

Can Major League Baseball Legally Exclude a Woman?

Today is Stacy Piagno’s birthday. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Piagno has made some history over the last couple years, becoming (along with outfielder Kelsie Whitmore) not only the first woman to appear on a professional roster in over half a century, but also the first to win a game as a pitcher in roughly that same period of time.

Nor were Piagno’s appearances the product of a mere promotional stunt. After debuting in 2016 for the Sonoma Stompers of the independent Pacific Association, she returned to the team last year, posting a 4.20 ERA, including seven innings of one-run ball against an all-male lineup in a July 15 victory. (The Stompers, you may recall, were the subject of the excellent book The Only Rule is It Has to Work by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller.) The Stompers have sent several players to more advanced leagues, including to affiliated ball. Succeeding in that context isn’t a negligible feat.

Piagno and Whitmore (who’s not even 20 yet) are hardly the only women to distinguish themselves on the field against men. The Negro Leagues, which hosted some of the greatest players of all time (Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige) and which, by some estimates, featured a talent level roughly equivalent to that found in the NPB, also had a number of female players right alongside the men. Toni Stone hit .243, played a competent second base, and is most known for recording her team’s only hit in a game against Satchel Paige. Mamie Johnson posted a 33-8 record and a .276 batting average. (I recognize that pitcher record and batting average aren’t ideal stats, but advanced metrics aren’t really available for a lot of Negro League players.) So there is at least some precedent for women playing capably at a relatively high level.

And there’s more recent history, too. Ila Borders threw over 100 innings across four independent-league seasons between 1997 and 2000. Knuckleballer Chelsea Baker, who dominated her high school (boys’) baseball league, threw batting practice to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014. And fellow knuckleballer Eri Yoshida held her own across both Japan and North America. There is also a National Women’s Baseball Team and the Japan Women’s Baseball League, and a Women’s baseball world cup.

The issue of women in baseball has already been addressed by writers far better than I. I’m not here to re-cover that ground. I’ve cited women’s history in the game, though, simply to establish both that women have exhibited both (a) a desire and (b) sufficient skill to play it professionally. (More on that latter point below.) What I’d like to do here is address the possibility that women have been excluded from the game — both as players and umpires — for reasons other than merit. And while I’m not the first to write about this, I’d like to take the opportunity of Piagno’s birthday to propose a legal theory by which women could potentially play affiliated baseball.

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“Pitch” Episode 10: Finale

Earlier recaps: Episode 1 / Episode 2 / Episode 3 / Episode 4 / Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7 / Episode 8 / Episode 9.

Welcome to our recap of the 10th episode of Pitch, entitled “Don’t Say It”. As always, there are spoilers, so proceed with caution.

Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) has thrown seven no-hit innings on 102 pitches. Per tradition, no one in the ballpark is daring to name what’s happening, and, despite Ginny’s protests, none of her teammates will talk to her. Will Ginny be able — or even allowed — to finish what she’s started?

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“Pitch” Episode 9: Farewell, Mike?

Earlier recaps: Episode 1 / Episode 2 / Episode 3 / Episode 4 / Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7 / Episode 8.

Welcome to our recap of the ninth episode of Pitch, entitled “Scratched”. As always, there are spoilers, so proceed with caution.

It’s the end of August, and these very well may be Mike Lawson’s (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) last days in San Diego. Mike has announced his desire to be traded to the Cubs, and the Padres are attempting to comply. (In earlier episode, someone mentions to Mike that he’s been placed on waivers. Presumably, he’s been claimed by Chicago or passed through waivers entirely.)

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“Pitch” Episode 8: Rain Delay

Earlier recaps: Episode 1 / Episode 2 / Episode 3 / Episode 4 / Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7.

Welcome to our recap of the eighth episode of Pitch, entitled “Unstoppable Forces & Immovable Objects”. As always, there are spoilers, so proceed with caution.

Prior to today’s Padres game, Mike Lawson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) has a breakfast meeting with his agent. Mike has cleared waivers, and several teams are now interested in trading for him. The agent wants to know how open Mike is to waiving his no-trade clause. As of now, Mike isn’t especially amenable to this idea. “We’ll get rained out before I ever leave San Diego,” he declares.

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“Pitch” Episode 7: The Body Issue

Earlier recaps: Episode 1 / Episode 2 / Episode 3 / Episode 4 / Episode 5 / Episode 6.

Welcome to our recap of the seventh episode of Pitch, entitled “San Francisco”. As always, there are spoilers, so proceed with caution.

We open with Mike Lawson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) alone in the Padres clubhouse, the first to arrive for that day’s game. This suggests that we may well be in for a Mike-centric episode.

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“Pitch” Episode 6: Worn Out

Earlier recaps: Episode 1 / Episode 2 / Episode 3 / Episode 4 / Episode 5.

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

Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) has apparently had an eventful couple of days. The episode opens with her meeting with a psychiatrist, Dr. Andrea Barton (Rita Wilson), who asks Ginny to recount what she’s been through. While this week’s episode still has the present/flashback format, these flashbacks take place relatively recently, all within the past 48 hours.

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“Pitch” Episode 5: Trade Deadline

Earlier recaps: Episode 1 / Episode 2 / Episode 3 / Episode 4.

Welcome to our recap of the fifth episode of “Pitch”, entitled “Alfonzo Guzman-Chavez”. As always, there are spoilers, so proceed with caution.

It’s 48 hours until the MLB trade deadline. The Padres have just won their sixth game in a row. Changes are likely coming, as the front office prepares for a postseason chase.

The Padres clubhouse is tense, with players obsessively checking for trade news and rumors. Mike (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) assures Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) that she isn’t going anywhere. Blip (Mo McRae) feels Mike needn’t worry, either, since he has a no-trade clause. Blip is concerned for himself, because one article mentioned him as a potential target for the Cubs.

General manager Oscar (Mark Consuelos) has three things he wants: “a setup guy, a utility infielder, and a cornerman who can hit.” Oscar asks manager Al (Dan Lauria) if he feels the team has a shot at contending should these be acquired. (You’re the GM, Oscar — that’s really more your call.) Al promises to keep the Padres in the playoff hunt if Oscar holds up his end of things.

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“Pitch” Episode 4: #PutHerInTheGame

Earlier recaps: Episode 1 / Episode 2 / Episode 3.

Welcome to our recap of the fourth episode of “Pitch”, entitled “The Break”. Many of you were likely too busy watching that wild NLDS Game 5 to have gotten around to this episode at time of posting, so proceed with caution, as there are spoilers.

The All-Star break has arrived in the “Pitch” universe. As in real life, the 2016 All-Star Game takes place in San Diego. What feels less like real life is that MLB is paying serious attention to an online campaign to get a player into the game who wasn’t voted in by the fans.

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“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.

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“Pitch” Episode 2: Ginnsanity

Earlier recaps: Episode 1.

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

We join Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) in the aftermath of her first major-league victory (which is, of course, the first ever major-league victory by a woman). After the locker-room blowup we saw last week, Ginny’s determined to not cause any more of a fuss, despite the outside pandemonium that sports pundits have dubbed “Ginnsanity.” She wants to be “just one of the guys.”

The best way to do this is by going out for drinks with some of her Padres teammates. Almost immediately, they address the issue of Ginny’s sexuality — something that, ideally, wouldn’t be relevant, but, in reality, most definitely is. Ginny’s not a “nun,” nor is she a lesbian, but she doesn’t hook up with teammates, either. Now they know.

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“Pitch” Pilot: The Right Woman for the Job

“Pitch”, FOX’s new hour-long drama, premiered last night. It was a strong first episode, both dramatic and entertaining. It presents a likable yet complex protagonist in Ginny Baker (played by actress Kylie Bunbury), while also introducing us to a supporting cast that has the potential to be compelling.

What follows is a recap of the show. As such, there are spoilers below, so consider yourself warned if you haven’t set seen the first episode.

We join Ginny as she’s getting ready to head to Petco Park for her major-league debut. A 23-year-old right-handed screwball pitcher who’s been in the Padres organization for five years, she is laser focused on mentally preparing for her spot start, uninterested in any outside distractions. Accompanied by her agent, Amelia Slater (Ali Larter) and social-media manager, Eliot (Tim Jo), she’s greeted by throngs of excited fans waiting for her outside of the ballpark.

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