Even though Mike has struck up a quasi-secret dalliance with Ginny’s agent, is there a future in which pitcher and catcher take their relationship to the next level on Pitch?
“We can’t resist it,” executive producer Paris Barclay tells EW. “When we actually put it out there, we did some testing on it, [and] people were very intrigued by the two of them together.”
With the duo working so closely together on the field, there was always going to be a level of respect between them. “It’s a classic sports movie construct, which is the grizzled, aging veteran and the young upstart,” executive producer Dan Fogelman says. “For the most part, you can name any sports movie, and there’s a degree of that. The difference we have here is one of them is a woman with the eyes of the world on her, so I think that creates an extra layer. What we’re not familiar with is a hint of chemistry in a different way between the two of them being two different genders. That’s a really interesting dynamic. The closest I can think of off the top of my head is probably Tom Hanks and Geena Davis in A League of Their Own, but he was the manager and not a player on the team playing with her.”
For Ginny (Kylie Bunbury), though, those feelings go back much further than their working dynamic on the field. “They have chemistry, and it’s palpable,” Bunbury says. “She used to have posters of him on her wall, so she really does look up to him. He’s her favorite player, so there’s definitely that crush element on her part.”
But the show is so far taking its time leaning into that relationship, pairing Mike (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) up with Amelia (Ali Larter) for a slowly budding and mostly secret romance. “When you have two characters that clearly like each other, how many different ways can you keep them apart?” Fogelman says. “It’s a constant tension. When you look at what some shows successfully did — like The Office did for years, but even the medical shows; Grey’s Anatomy for example — it’s a difficult thing for a writers’ room when these two people have chemistry. How many obstacles can you throw in their way? And in this case, what’s great about it, and makes it easy for us, is they can’t be together. She is trying to crack ground as the first woman to make it in a sport. The last thing she can possibly do is start dating one of her teammates. She can’t do it.”
Can’t is relative — just like Olivia Pope can’t be with Fitz on Scandal because he’s the president of the United States, and yet that never really stopped her. “There are going to be moments,” Fogelman concedes. “But what we have to our benefit is, at least in the near term, being able to, in a really realistic way, have fun spreading out that push and pull.”
“What’s really great that the creators of this show are doing is they’re not shoving it down people’s throats immediately,” Bunbury says. “It’s what the audience is expecting, and I think they’re really good with their timing on things, so I think it’s a slow boil. At this point, it’s professional with a side of flirt.”
Referring to an earlier episode that delved into the repercussions of Ginny dating a fellow ball player early in her career, Fogelman says her walls will be difficult to crack. “She’s built up a pretty substantial protection mechanism against that,” he says. “But when their chemistry becomes great and undeniable way into the future, I think that’s going to be a really fun thing to watch crack, repair, and build up stronger, and kind of play that out in the long term.”
For his part, Gosselaar believes there’s a true connection between Ginny and Mike that’s rooted in baseball. “There’s a real brother and sisterhood about sharing the hardships that happen in the game, the little intricacies and the things that we as fans, or the management, don’t see,” Gosselaar says. “There’s a really cool moment in the script where Ginny and Mike connect over how hard this game is, not only physically but mentally, and that’s a connection that I don’t think Mike has ever had with a woman.”
But Gosselaar is not entirely on board with the idea of the duo actually getting together, citing the Moonlighting Curse. “I don’t know if I want to see it, to be honest with you,” Goselaar says. “Coming from watching television, and growing up watching television, you always want that tension to be there, but you don’t ever want it to go there, because once it goes there, you can never go back. As long as we can drag that out as long as possible, I think it’ll be great.”
“Selfishly, I want to play baseball,” Gosselaar adds. “I feel like if one of us started dating the other, then one of us would have to kind of hang up the cleats, and I don’t want it to be me — I want to stay on the field.”
Bunbury, however, has a very different reason for being reticent. “MP is so wonderful to work with, and we’re really great friends off set as well, so I think it’d be something that would be fun to explore,” Bunbury says. “This is the thing, I’m not prepared to make out with that beard. That’s my biggest concern, at this point, is that beard, so maybe if he shaves it then we can talk.”
Pitch airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.