After a week hiatus, "Pitch" has returned with an episode titled "Alfonzo Guzman-Chavez." In the previous episode, directed by back-to-back Emmy Award-winning actress Regina King, the majority of the characters found themselves at a crossroads.
Ginny, selected to her first All-Star team, had to quickly adjust to a different kind of pressure to perform on one of the games' biggest stages — all while dealing with the reality of her mother's new relationship with an old family friend.
Mike, still struggling with his health, knows his playing days are coming to an end. His TV analyst tryout produced mixed results and left him unsettled about his future. Blip and Evelyn, while excited about the progress the All-Star selection signifies, are searching to balance home life with the rigor of this new career plateau. Oscar, fully aware of the winds of change blowing through the Padres organization, took the typically relaxed All-Star break and made a move to snag a top-notch Cuban prospect. All of them are, in their own ways, standing on somewhat shaky ground with the hope of a more surefooted next step.
Speaking of shaky ground, "Alfonzo Guzman-Chavez" opens with the annual anxiety-inducing ritual known as the Major League Baseball trade deadline. Katie Nolan of "Garbage Time" smartly puts the yearly buyers and sellers festival into context by saying, "half the GMs are scrambling to find the missing pieces they need to make a playoff run, while the other have are holding a fire sale hoping to restock their pipeline with prospects."
Then Nolan speaks on a truth that most intellectually understand but infrequently spend any real time pondering — the turmoil the trade deadline creates for MLB's workforce. "Meanwhile the players, you know the human beings whose lives are turned upside down by the shifts from one city to another, focus on the one thing that they have control over playing baseball."
Riding a six-game winning streak the Padres believe they could be in the playoff hunt with just a few minor adjustments. That is, at least the consensus between GM Oscar and manger Luongo. The newly placed president of baseball operations, played by Kevin Connolly, is more touchy-feely than his predecessor, but is still a hard-nosed baseball businessman who gave Oscar the challenge of improving the team while cutting $2 million in salary.
On the relationship front, three come into focus during this episode: Blip and Evelyn, Mike and Amelia, and — oddly — Ginny and Tommy. A beautiful home that Evelyn has been eyeing is back on the market and she would like to move on it. Blip, who is more than budget conscious, does not shoot down the idea based on money, but the understanding that no one is safe two days before the trade deadline. Blip and Evelyn, who have worked hard to make San Diego home on and off the field, find themselves in the unenviable position of Blip being good enough to be an an asset for a major deal.
The ship that is holding Mike and Amelia's secret relationship is not only leaking but it is entering uncharted waters that appear to be mutual feelings. After another rendezvous, Mike ask Amelia to stay the night; she balks at the idea, then Mike — hurt feelings in tow — walks Amelia to her car.
As they arrive at the car they see that it has been vandalized. Mike proceeds to put his foot in his mouth with an off-handed comment about groupie-on-groupie violence, and an awkward night takes a contentious turn as Amelia speeds off.
The next interaction between Mike and Amelia is still pretty awkward and somewhat heated as the veteran ball player pulls a rookie move of sending Amelia a loaner car from one of his dealerships. Not impressed by his heavy-handed chivalry, Amelia has Eliot return the car but not before she comes to the realization that she has real feelings for Mike and they need to move from out of the shadows.
Mike had a similar revelation as he played pool with Blip, who in a series of questions uncovered his relationship with Amelia then implored Mike to tell Ginny.
Ginny, who is safe from the threat of being traded, is still worried about the possibility of Blip, Evelyn and their adorable 7-year-old twin boys being moved at a moment's notice. Seeking a break from the constant checking of trade updates, Tommy invites Ginny to go for a run.
Few relationships have covered more ground in the first five shows than Ginny and Tommy's. From her first step in the clubhouse, Tommy, who was hurt at the time, told Ginny how unwelcome she was. Then Ginny plunked the guy who injured Tommy, changing things between them. Then we arrive at this place where Tommy is not only offering helpful advice to Ginny but confiding in her on a deeply personal level.
In the backdrop, we find out about one of Ginny's high school teammates, Jordan, who became a dependable friend. Unfortunately for Jordan, he did not have the same kind of parental support as Ginny, and we learn that Jordan's dad, who was struggling with alcohol abuse, drove the car that caused the fatal accident that killed Bill Baker.
With the trauma of losing her best friend and her dad on the same night, the tension Ginny feels to keep Blip and Evelyn makes perfect sense. The way Ginny expressed that sentiment by going into her GM's office and demanding he not trade her friend could have ended way worse.
Oscar only, in a tempered, way told the rookie she crossed the line. Still, a final move had to be made — and while Blip was spared Tommy was traded away. While that sting was still fresh the next day, Amelia comes clean to Ginny about her and Mike. Ginny plays it cool on the surface, but if we have learned anything through five shows, it's that what's happening on the surface with Ginny is only half the story. We will have to wait until next week to get the second half.