Given how big baseball is in Korea, I’m surprised there haven’t been more dramas centered around this sport. Still, this uniqueness certainly spills into Stove League, combining baseball and sport-related action with all the usual Korean drama quips you’d expect, with tension and character-driven drama throughout.
Seung-Soo returns to the office and finds out Dong-Gyu has won two trophies at the annual baseball awards. Given what happened to his car, he remains sceptical in the wake of him taking the team out to dinner. He rejects the offer himself though and returns to his office, where Se-Young speaks to him about WAR (wins above replacement) and how integral he is to their team.
Outside, he talks to Dong-Gyu about his position in the team, who’s none too happy with Seung-Soo’s option of trading him out. Dong-Gyu promises to show him his power before walking away. Not too long after, Se-Young receives a call as Seung-Soo is assaulted in the street by two thugs. Two thugs as it turns out, that are friends with Dong-Gyu.
At home, Seung-Soo phones Hong-Man and arranges something while Dong-Gyu phones the attackers and discusses the attack on the General Manager. That evening, Se-Young drives Seung-Soo home until they’re cornered on the road and surrounded by thugs who grab baseball bats and prepare to hit them… until Hong-Man arrives and single-handedly overpowers them all.
The Vikings’ General Manager scouts Dreams’ training session from afar until Seung-Soo greets him and offers a deal that’ll benefit both their parties. Dong-Gyu has other ideas however and slips Chi-Hun a wad of money to disrupt this transaction, something he gladly takes and begins stirring up with the operations team. Infront of the Junior Managing Director however, Seung-Soo has his full confidence that he’ll do the right thing.
Unfortunately the rumours around the trade spread to the internet and after the leaked reports get out, the operations team are swamped with calls asking for General Manager Baek to retire. The team march up to Seung-Soo as he arrives and demand to know what’s going on. He calls a meeting and sits everyone down, explaining what’s happening. It turns out Dong-Gyu is not the best player in the team – and he has the stats to prove it. Seung-Soo has clearly done his homework and explains there are better players in the team.
It turns out Vikings have traded Dreams’ previous star player Doo-Ki back to the team in exchange for Dong-Gyu. It’s quite the scoop and it turns out they’ve also acquired Kwan-Sik in a 2-for-2 trade. As he leaves the room, he confronts Dong-Gyu and tells him about the trade. As he goes on, he whispers something in his ear before telling him to leave.
The fans take well to this trade too, and with Doo-Ki now back in the squad and things on the up, Se-Young contemplates whether this will strengthen the team and turn the tide in their favour. As the episode closes out, Seung-Soo sits with the Junior Managing Director and they discuss the trade, with the latter going on to admit he’s been hired because of his unique resume – championship and disbandment. He tells him to do as he’s done before with Dreams and he agrees, leaving the episode with plenty of hope for the team in the future.
I have to say, the ending with Seung-Soo confronting the entire operations team and discussing the stats around Dong-Gyu was seriously satisfying to watch. It reminded me a lot of Moneyball too and I know I mentioned that last time out but this time out it works perfectly against the character-driven drama with Dong-Gyu. If I’d wager a guess I think Dong-Gyu will come back to haunt the team, with a possible play-0ff match between the Vikings and Dreams. Doo-Ki VS Dong-Gyu.
Regardless of what happens, Stove League is shaping up nicely to hit a home run but whether it’ll achieve this or not, remains to be seen but this is one I’ll be scouting each week with a keen eye!
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