“Back Footed” is a strange episode of A League of Their Own in which absolutely nobody is having a good time. They’re not having a good time for good reasons. But whether on the field or the back seat of a car, the struggles this episode are real. And on top of all that, both our favorite pitchers have the “yips.”
Put On Your War Face
“We’re fine! We’re fine! Did I mention we are totally fine?” No matter the era or challenge, I think we can all relate to this feeling. The desperate assertion that everything is okay when everything is absolutely not okay.
And nothing is okay for…anyone this week. Clance is absolutely petrified of losing her husband. Shaw is shoved into the coach role on a more permanent basis. It’s not a comfortable place for her to be. More frustratingly, Lupe probably would have been a better fit. Even worse, she knows it. And she knows why she wasn’t considered for the role. Not that anyone but her will say that quiet part out loud.
She’s also struggling with her arm – and with finding who she is, rather than emulating those who have gone before her. In that sense, she’s on a similar path to Max, who’s also trying to find herself on the pitcher’s mound. She does fine when she’s in practice, but when it actually matters? She chokes. As Shaw says, she’s got the “yips.”
And speaking of Shaw and the “yips,” she’s trying to find herself both as a coach and romantically. With both Greta and her husband, actually, since she’s found herself in the uncomfortable (certainly for the time) position of having feelings for both. And, unlike Max, she doesn’t find sex with a man to be entirely disappointing. (I’m going to give Gary (Kendall Johnson) the benefit of the doubt that he isn’t totally without game. She’s just not that into you, dude.)
Meanwhile, Greta’s struggling with her own past and a former lover who was “put away” when her sexual orientation was discovered. And we all know what that means. With that horrific experience, no wonder she’s so determined to hold tight to her self-imposed rules.
And did I mention that Max is trying to navigate not only who she is sexually (and how she presents herself to the world), and who she is on the field, but she’s also trying to figure out how who she is would be accepted by her family? If this show doesn’t give Max a damn break and soon, I swear to god…
On the plus side, everyone’s been dealing with so much, they don’t have the emotional capacity to hold grudges. So all of our favorite friendships are back on track. That, at least, is a relief.
See Something, Say Something
While everyone is dealing with their own separate-but-often-related issues, the episode does make a point to call out the things that haven’t been said. When Lupe was passed over for the role of Coach, she knows why. Even if others didn’t think about it. They didn’t think about it because they didn’t have to. Because they’re not like her – White passing enough to be allowed on the Peaches, but not really enough to be accepted. The victim who’s painted as the aggressor because of stereotypes she can’t control.
And Max points out that Shaw (and undoubtedly others) saw her at the tryouts. She saw how good Max was; she saw how she was dismissed. And she chose to say nothing. To that point, Shaw continues to say nothing. Even after Max called her out on her silence. It’s not like she went back to the team and said, “Hey, I have an idea…”
It’s true that, compared to White men, the women on the Rockford Peaches have comparatively less power to instigate change. They’ve only been given an inch, themselves. But that’s an inch more than Max – and other women who look like Max – have been given. We either prop each other up and cross over the barricades put up against us together, or we aren’t really fighting for equality.
I keep hoping Shaw would use what power she has (and it’s more than even others on her team) to advocate for Max. And, frankly, for Lupe. So far, I continue to be disappointed. Here’s hoping that changes next week.
A League of Their Own is streaming now on Amazon Plus Video.