There's a new baseball drama on network television and it's so authentic, the script had the Giants and Padres playing another 1-run game.
You can find many more detailed reviews filled with effusive praise for the show, and so the only thing I think that needs to be said for the purposes of this article is that Pitch is a good show and worth your time. It's fun and exciting and what really makes it all work is the strong attempts to adhere to an authentic Major League Baseball experience, to the extent that it's produced in conjunction with the league itself. In fact, it's so rooted in MLB authenticity that the climactic matchup between the fictional San Diego Padres and fictional San Francisco Giants played out a lot like a real life matchup between the two teams.
But the larger point is that the Giants were the bad guys! Earlier in the episode, minor league call-up Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), the first woman to make it to the MLB level, got an unfortunate case of the yips in her first start and was pulled after 10 wild pitches. The rest of the episode shows her on her path back to the mound for her next start, to prove to herself that she truly belongs there. She struggled against the Dodgers in that first start, so she'd have to find herself against the San Francisco Giants.
This show is so true to reality that creators Dan Fogelman & Rick Singer wrote the San Francisco Giants as the team a struggling pitcher would suddenly find herself and get her groove back against. As recent as this second half of the season the Giants have already resurrected the careers of Edwin Jackson, Christian Friedrich, and Luis Perdomo. Why not a fictional Padres pitcher, too?
But exactly how close is the fictional team to the real one?
Here's our best look at the San Francisco Giants created by Fogelman & Singer.
Do we even want to talk about Willis' season line? 279 AB, 1 R, 76 H, .272 AVG, .272 OBP ... that's worse than Emmanuel Burriss strapped to Ricky Ledee's half season!
Most of the time, writers name background-level characters after friends and family members or even in-jokes, so there's probably no specific meaning or 1:1 comparison with real baseball players here. For instance, Falls is likely a reference to Kevin Falls, one of the producers of Pitch. And Egan is, of course, a reference to Dan Egan, the douchebag communications director in HBO's Veep.
Egan is also the Giants' leadoff hitter:
Look at this little twerp. But right off the bat, this tells us a lot about the fictional Giants. For one thing, Bruce Bochy or a Bruce Bochy-type is not managing the team. There's no way he would hit a right-hander leadoff against a right-handed callup. He'd play a very traditional matchup here. Also, Egan is the second baseman and, as we all know, second basemen hit second. It's right there in the name.
He also looks a little bit like Rich Aurlia sans goatee (goatee'd Aurilia is the best Aurlia, though), which is besides the point but worth mentioning.
After getting ahead in the count 2-1, Egan grounds out sharply to shortstop on the next pitch. This is the most Giants outcome possible. Facing a pitcher who's thrown 12 out 13 wild pitches in her Major League career, Egan doesn't wait very long before swinging. Now, to be fair, the 2-1 pitch was a fastball, not Baker's best pitch (more on that in a second), and one that tops out at maybe 88mph. Maybe Egan was sitting on a fastball in that location.
Later, the Giants' catcher Ferraro would also look for that fastball. Here's Ferraro:
Now that's a catcher! Look at that mass. He must be a power hitter with that generic MLB The Show computer-generated player batting stance.
Oh man! He's huge. Look at that power stroke. He must've hit a home run --
No wait! This show is authentic! He crushed a fastball that died out in left field and the left fielder made a nice play to make the catch.
It's possible the writers had no idea this is how most of the Padres-Giants games have gone in the Petco Park era (they've played 40 1-run games since 2009), but the coincidence had me howling. And Baker throws 44 pitches through 4 innings. This is a very Giantsy result against a new pitcher. It sounds about right. So, bravo on the research, Fogelman & Singer.
Finally, in the sixth inning, with Baker tiring and having thrown 84 pitches, the Giants' best hitter, the first baseman Schiazzo works the count full.
He doesn't look all that special to me. If he's the Giants' best hitter, I fear the Giants of the Pitch universe are in for some trouble this season. He's dry humping the plate, for crying out loud.
The bases are loaded. Baker's catcher, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, wants the fastball. She shakes him off. The screwball? That's the one. See, that's Baker's best pitch. Her father taught it to her when he realized that she'd never be able to throw 95 mph. The only way she'd make it to the big leagues was to do something special. So, she became a screwball specialist.
Somehow, Schiazzo hadn't seen this pitch the entire game or else wasn't prepared for it in this situation.
Oof. What a disaster! What a terrible swing for that situation! And look where his feet wind up!
That's not the foot landing of an all-star slugger! Ugh.
Pitch really captures what it feels like to watch a San Francisco Giants team without a genuine power hitter in the middle of the batting order.
Baker gets pulled in the next inning, but with the lead. And since we know it's the Giants, we know she gets the win.
Professional Grant Brisbee troller and occasional Dodgers fan Molly Knight is a consultant on the show, so it's possible that in later episodes, the Giants will take on a more loathsome personality and start devouring whole the little children rooting for Ginny Baker to succeed, but until then, the Giants of Pitch are the Giants of real life: flawed, inefficient, and incapable of blowing out the San Diego Padres.