Women in baseball. Is it far-fetched? Let’s compare swim caps to ball caps: Katie Ledecky to Ginny Baker.
If a jocular pat on the behind after a good inning (episode one) was all women need overcome to play ball, one of us would be kissing necklaces, counting steps, and spitting sunflower seeds by now. But other hurdles antagonize us.
Athletchic is first to commend—celebrate!—the birth of Ginny Baker into the MLB on Fox’s new Thursday night prime-time show Pitch. Sure, she’s tall, dark, and stunningly beautiful (we are still talking TV here) but she brings with her a plethora of real-life problems that might occur if a woman suited up. And that’s a pretty big if.
If a woman can play ball. Can she? We can’t look at all the angles to that question but let’s look at a blaring few.
Pardon the pun but do we have the balls to play? Technically no. Figuratively, yes. Our hearts, lungs and muscles may be smaller, but today science constantly raises the bar. Better training, equipment, and nutrition make us bigger, stronger, faster.
Disagree? I challenge your opinion with two words: Katie Ledecky.
I know. Good as she is, her 3:56:46 in the 400 freestyle still lags 16 seconds behind the men’s record. But hear me out. There are 30 MLB teams (I think you know where I’m going) with rosters of 25 (I could debate that number but don’t need to) for a total of 750 male athletes playing professional ball. So let’s take balls out of the scenario (and at the same time leave them in) and convert those players to swimmers. Teams of 25 swimmers on 30 teams swimming the 400 freestyle and guess who shows up as number 311 on the men’s list at http://www.fina.org/content/swimming-world-ranking right between good old Alex and Eric?
You got it. Our man Katie.
In fact, look further. I hate to be the bearer of bad news to the Archie Bunkers of men’s baseball, but that puts her way above Ginny Baker’s fifth-on-the-roster spot. Hell, a few torn rotator cups of team mates and Ledecky is in the starting line-up.
So move on to a second hurdle.
How’s the timing? Is Prime Time the right hour for a story about a profession female ball player?
Baseball is all about timing. Stepping up to the plate, swinging the bat to meet the pitch perfectly, tagging home plate before the ball slips into the catcher’s mitt. Does Fox earn a run?
Athletchic encourages more women and girls to get behind Ginny Baker. We feel she’s arrived on the mound at just the right time. If you don’t think so, we challenge your opinion with one word. Hillary.
With public audiences drooling over Hill versus Donnie reality TV (oh wait, strike reality), what’s a little girl-meets-boy on-the-pitcher-mound saga? Fox couldn’t have timed this show better if they tried. It seems orchestrated from the upper deck. And if you feel the possibility of having a female president in 2016 doesn’t prove perfect timing then let’s mention Mo’ne Davis. (Athletchic isn’t sure she wasn’t the inspiration behind this story.)
Years ago, a little girl didn’t have the opportunity to play ball like the boys. She grew up on the sidelines tangled in ribbons while boys logged precious minutes, hours, days on the field. Don’t think that doesn’t count. How many families taunting boys with major league potential didn’t pack bags for those snowball prodigies and send them south for winter to spend more time with a girl’s best friend? (Don’t even tell me you didn’t get that.) Time spent in the diamond is everything.
Fox’s Pitch is the story of a girl, Ginny, with a talent, pitching. She has the balls to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the boys and play major league baseball. She’s fifth on the roster, and her feminism may have saved her from a trip back to the minor leagues, but sometimes physicality and punctuality has to be brushed aside and an exception made. Because on this television show, out in the stands, little girls sitting in bleachers have tossed out their Cinderella costumes for Ginny Baker costumes. They wave signs that say “Go Ginny” with thoughts of “it could be me” dancing in their heads.
And out in TV land, little girls sit on couches, wearing Nike sneakers, drinking coke, and responding to their brothers when they say, “that could never happen,” with a hard, cold, determined and strong, “don’t be so sure.”
What could be better than that?
Thanks Fox. Girls? Let’s get behind Ginny Baker and support Pitch.
_____________________________________________________________________________ Cyndie Zahner is a freelance writer. Follow her on Instagram @athletchicz or Twitter @tweetyz.