Hot Stove League returns for a blinder of a penultimate episode, one that sees the team taken one step too far from the upper management and starting their fight back to get the justice they deserve. Trading Doo-Ki proves to be the final catalyst for the team as they work together to try and oust the poison that is the Jaesong Group.
Episode 15 of Stove League begins with Seung-Soo marching up to the Junior Managing Director and telling him he makes him sick. As they talk, the Director tells him he wants to restructure the club and mentions rebuilding, which he immediately realizes is a lie given the two players being traded are in their early 30’s. Unfortunately the discussion doesn’t go well and Seung-Soo is left to stew over this discussion.
Meanwhile Dong-Gyu and Doo-Ki discuss their ill-fate and how they’re clearly not destined to play together. As he packs his things up, the team see him off as Seung-Soo says goodbye too. Doo-Ki offers him words of wisdom by telling him not to try and save him for the sake of the team. As Doo-Ki leaves, Seung Soo is clearly moved by this trade.
Se-Young confronts Seong-Bok over his management and calls him shameful for agreeing to the trade, unable to listen to his self-wallowing pity anymore. As she speaks to Seung-Soo about the management decision around selling him, she notices his attitude has changed too, exhibiting much more of a defeatist attitude. She goes on to give an emotional speech about how many players she’s managed to turn to their cause and leaves him to ponder over her words.
Unfortunately the trade causes serious repercussions as a group stand outside the stadium and start protesting over the trade. High above, the Junior Managing Director questions the passion of these protestors, writing off baseball as “just a hobby”. To make matters worse, the Vice President arrives and demands authority over the Operations Team before calling the Junior Managing Director into his office and talking to him. As they do, Se-Young gathers the department and questions whether the upper-management are trying to disband and ruin the team.
This ripples across to the players, organised by Jin Woo and Dong-Gyu, who decide to start boycotting training. The other coaches question Mr Kwon too and the decision to trade Doo-Ki is one step too far for everyone in the team, who begin to rebel. The reporter Chi-Hun decides to sacrifice his career and write a report on all the wrongdoings the Jaesong Group have committed. The analytics team start gathering data. While the Scouting Department work on connecting as many people together to their cause as possible. As they continue to work, Seung-Soo arrives and reads the notes, questioning whether they could potentially usurp the Jaeson Group.
At the hospital, Seung-Soo sits with Seong-Bok and learns that he cut a deal with the Jaesong Group, which would explain his brash decision to rid the team of Doo-Ki. Piecing together what’s happening, Seung-Soo decides to spread the news that Doo-Ki is retiring before speaking to Woo-Suk about his employment contract. Promising to keep his name out of the news, Seung-Soo gets hold of the document and sees firsthand that the group sold off Doo-Ki for 2 million, which the Junior Managing Director subsequently put back in the Jaesong Group as a way of winning over their trust.
Meanwhile, Seung-Soo admits the new terms of his contract to the group and promises to take sole responsibility as a whistle-blower by taking this information to the KPB. The news spreads, thankfully prompting the public to be on their side, as the Operations Manager from Titans rings Se-Young and tells them to cancel the trade. It’s an incredibly satisfying moment and one that sees the team come together and celebrate Doo-Ki’s return, as the Head Coach realizes what he’s done and apologises for his actions.
Seung-Soo arrives at the office to rapturous applause until Mr Kwon arrives and talks to him and the team about what’s happened. He sneers, going on to tell them he’s heading to a press conference to announce the disbandment of Dreams. As he does, Seung-Soo rallies the troops and tells them they need to work together and oust the Jaesong group. As Seung-Soo approaches the Chairman and tells him he wants to sell Dreams, Mr Kwon holds his press conference and announces the team will be disbanded where everything is left wide open for the finale.
Hoit Stove League promises a really thrilling and dramatic finale to come. What will happen to Dreams? Will Seung-Soo be able to find another Management Group to take over Dreams and prevent so many people from losing their jobs? In a way, this interesting examination of class and the hierarchy at the club is a fascinating insight into what happens when a group run a club on a budget and subsequently see people rebel.
It happens in football (soccer) all the time and in recent years clubs like Newcastle and Manchester United have come under fire for their questionable management practices, which ultimately comes back to upper management for running the club. Looking back, Stove League has been a fascinating and interesting drama into the running of a baseball club and what happens when it all goes wrong. It’s a series that’s put the characters on centre-stage and done so in a really authentic manner.
All eyes now turn to the finale next Friday and the future of Dreams hangs in the balance.
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