A League of Their Own Recap: So There Is Some Crying in Baseball

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We are hurtling toward the inaugural All-American Girls Professional Baseball League’s championship series, and with the Peaches sitting squarely in third place, they have some work to do if they want a shot at the title. I want to say losing Dove was a blow to the team, but … was it? Dove was terrible. In the long run, they are better off without someone who doesn’t believe in their talent. In the short run, however, there are obvious leadership issues.

The on-field brawl from the previous episode only makes the Peaches’ problems worse. As Mr. Baker’s dud nephew informs Carson and Lupe, it’s all over the papers, and now even the Girl Scouts are boycotting them. The Girl Scouts! Of America! His uncle is ready to call it a loss and shut the whole league down unless things take a turn. And by “things” I mean “the amount of money the league is making.” First step: Carson and Lupe have to at least look as if they’re on good terms out there. It sounds easy enough, but we know Lupe can barely stand to be in the same room as Carson, and honestly, after watching Mr. Nephew Baker once again pin the whole commotion on Lupe and then hand Carson the full coaching position, who can blame her? It’s been hinted at over the past few episodes, but finally Lupe has a more direct conversation with her best friend on the team, Jess, in which she points out that it’s much easier for people to blame the Mexican woman than the white housewife from Idaho.

It’s infuriating and adds to the pressure Lupe already feels to excel at pitching. Lu is upset and angry, but she’s also in her head about coming back off the bench after being out for so many games. So at first she doesn’t take Carson seriously. When Carson finally calls her up to pitch, she refuses. Very publicly! But Lu isn’t the only one. No one takes Carson seriously. Beverly tries to get her to stand in her power, but that mostly means speaking in a deeper voice — a very laughable deeper voice. Things get so bad that Carson starts crying, to which Jess yells … well, I think you can guess what she yells. You didn’t think, with all the other homages to the film, this show would ignore “There’s no crying in baseball,” did you?

In the end, Carson realizes she’s made a critical mistake in her coaching — she’s made it all about her when it should be about the team. Her realization comes on the heels of two moments when Carson finally sees how lacking in self-awareness she is. She’s obviously been blaming Lu for not being a team player but then catches her in a private moment when she’s been extra hard on herself. Lu’s reluctance to step back on the mound isn’t all about spite. Then, during one of Carson’s secret baseball meetups with Max, Carson flippantly remarks that things would be so much easier for her if Max were on her team. Max has to remind her that she’s not allowed on Carson’s team and points out that Carson stood by and did nothing when she was kicked off the field during tryouts. Both moments give Carson some much-needed perspective. At the next game, she makes a big apology and makes sure they know she trusts them. She pulls Lupe aside: “You’re my pitcher. When you tell me you’re ready, you’re ready.” Sorry, Terri, or whatever your name is!

Lupe is back, baby — and so are the Peaches. They celebrate beating the best team in the league and the new realization that, statistically speaking, it’s “not impossible” to go to the championship series. Shirley’s run the numbers more than 20 times, in case you were wondering. Here’s hoping that, as we get closer to that final game, we get a little more baseball action, which, for a show about a baseball team, there’s been a bit of a dearth of. I need like 35 percent more baseball-related montages on this show, and I need them now.

While the Peaches seem to be refocusing on the game, Max Chapman is attempting to do the opposite. After so much disappointment, Max is trying to imagine a life without baseball. It’s a daunting task since so much — all, really — of who she believes herself to be is the game. She has it out with her mom, who she thinks must be so happy to see her fail. All of this is of course tied into the argument she overheard her parents having about Max possibly being gay, which is of course also tied into the Bertie of it all. Max decides she’s moving out before her mom can throw her out.

She also decides — with a little push from Carson, who advises her to face the voices in her head in order to get through her pitching-anxiety issues — that she needs to talk to Bertie. Max may think her identity issues have to do only with baseball, but it’s clear (and was even hinted at by Mrs. Turner) that Max is having trouble fully owning who she really is. So it’s not that much of a surprise that when she tracks down Bertie and finds he is a trans man living a very happy life with a woman named Gracie from the factory, Max’s first instinct is to run. Like she literally runs away when Bertie and Gracie, so excited to see her, invite her to stay for dinner and get to know them better.

In fact, she runs all the way to her mom’s hair salon and, after apologizing to Toni, asks her to do her hair. Scared and confused, Max wants to prove to herself she is nothing like Bertie. She has her mother give her a more feminine hairstyle, and she knocks on Gary’s door looking to have sex. The hair doesn’t last long, and the sex is as unsatisfying as it gets. (She really is playing Gary for a fool — this man needs to move on!) Max may not fully know who she is just yet, but she certainly knows when she’s trying to pretend to be something she’s not, and that just won’t work for her. By the end of the episode, she’s back at Bertie’s door, and she asks him to give her the haircut she’s wanted all along.

• Shirley is still spiraling about Jo being gay — she even asks Carson if she thinks they should report her, which, like, Jesus Christ — so Carson makes up a story about Jo and Dove having an affair. Shirley buys it because of course she does. I don’t know where this story line is going, but I am concerned.

• So, like, are we ever getting anything more about Dove? Did he steal Carson’s game cards to get the MLB gig? Will he ever be back, or … was that it? Feels like a waste of Nick Offerman.

• Greta’s been extra cold to Carson in public since Jo pointed out how obvious they’ve been (though the two are still getting hot and heavy in the back of a car in the garage), but Jo has a change of heart. She sees how happy her friend is when she’s with Carson, and she thinks that even the fact that they’re here playing baseball professionally points to some sort of societal change. Maybe they don’t have to worry about the rules they’ve made to protect themselves so much. Maybe they can be happy and have a chance at a real, fulfilling life.

• Carson lets slip during a conversation with Max that, though she does love her husband, Charlie, who is her best friend, she also thinks she’s in love with Greta. Greta, too, knows this is much more serious than the fling she assured Carson it would be. She tells Carson about her first love, Dana, who was “sent away” when her parents discovered them. It’s why Greta made those rules in the first place. Greta’s been pushing Carson away because she’s scared, but they both agree they don’t want to end what they have.

• The highlight of this series for me remains Max and Clance’s friendship. That scene in which they both (barely) try to convince themselves that they’re totally fine with the turmoil going on and then, when all else fails, make themselves feel better by eating everyone else’s lunch? That’s some top-notch friendship shit right there.

A League of Their Own Recap: So There Is Crying in Baseball

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