Hot Stove League returns this week with another interesting stand-alone issue for Seung-Soo to deal with. While he juggles the players and training schedules, we also receive more characterisation for the Junior Managing Director.
Episode 10 of Stove League begins with Seung-Soo speaking to Chang-Ju’s wife where she tells him not to feel bad. As they continue talking, he questions whether he’s able to live a happy life or not. After heading home and talking to his brother about the same topic, at the club the team appear to be doing well with the off-season training, until a fight breaks out between the coaches and Young-Ju who storms off just as Seung-Soo shows up and sees this unfold.
With baseball, teams are paid for 10 of the 12 months meaning this off-season training allows players to have full control over what they do and don’t do. Seung-Soo speaks to a few players and suggests they all work and do one-on-one sessions with the coaches if they’re unable to work with team training in an effort to try and stifle any concerns.
The new Player’s Association chair is revealed to be Doo-Ki and given how dedicated he is to the role, they can expect a lot of fierce push-back put into their idea of the coaching. The training schedule is printed and pinned up on the wall but things inevitably escalate, leading to the group divided and split over what to do. Seung-Soo tries to diffuse the situation but Doo-Ki also arrives and takes the side of the players. Eventually the line is drawn in the sand and with neither side backing down, the players all team up with Doo-Ki and walk out, as Seung-Soo is stuck with a fine for his actions.
This talk of off-season training spills over to the news and the interviewer discusses the implications of what Seung-Soo is proposing as he’s eventually interviewed face to face. Midway through the talk, he shows the woman a comedic video of Dreams baseball errrors online, which prompts him to tell them if the head coach is against his plans of training he will stop straight away.
To combat this, Doo-Ki heads on-air too and discusses what will happen if Seung-Soo pays the fine and continues. The Director watches in admiration and asks the Junior Managing Director if there are any other roles for him to take. He calls him out for a meal and offers him a hotel job on Jeju island to get away from managing Dreams. Instead, Seung-Soo walks away from him and his offer, turning his back on the Junior Managing Director and shaking his head as he throws food at his back.
Back at the club, the head coach aligns himself with the players and decides against allowing the training to go ahead. As Seung-Soo leaves with his head held high, he arrives in his office where Se-Young admits she was never on board with the idea but trusted him so didn’t say anything. However, their newfound hatred for him will be enough to spur the players on to train harder during the time they’re together; all of this was a big ploy from Seung-Soo from the get-go.
The Junior Managing Director receives some bad news and to make matters worse, on the TV he hears Dreams are going to go to Australia for the off-season. He then discusses the heavy industry with Kyung-Jun and a few other businessmen, something he’s been talking about throughout the episode. However, he snaps while they talk and arm-wrestles with the man, leading him to repeatedly slam his hand down on the table and beat Kyung-Jun where the episode ends.
While the episode doesn’t have much in the way of plot development beyond the training issue with the players, there’s a great dose of characterisation sprinkled throughout the hour and seeing more depth given to the Junior Managing Director is a welcome sight, especially given how one-dimensional he’s felt over the past few weeks. If there’s one thing this baseball drama has done well with, it’s portraying realistic characters.
The acting is great too and during the training segments seeing all these individual players we’ve followed over the weeks now together in training is a welcome sight and clever dose of progression on the part of the show as things gear up for the season ahead. Quite what today’s episode has in store for us remains to be seen but given the ending we receive, anything could happen next.
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