I’m a real sucker for sport dramas and after last week’s double bill, I spent some time scouring the internet for fellow critic recaps to find out other opinions. Sunny over at Dramabeans has written a really solid write-up to episode 1 and within that, they mention that the Hot Stove portion of the title refers to the off-season of baseball. With that crucial piece of information in mind, Hot Stove League’s politically charged segments and power-plays make a lot more sense and this continues through to the third episode as well.
As Dreams placed last in the league last year, episode 3 of Hot Stove League begins with the scouts choosing which player to pick in the draft. They pick Min Ho, a prolific fast-baller as Seung-Soo watches from his office with interest.
Doo-Ki arrives at Dreams to a standing ovation and immediately heads in and sees Seung-Soo, asking what his grand scheme is before heading out. As he does, the Junior Managing Director speaks to his boss, who implores him to shut the team down, which he agrees to do, echoing what was mentioned at the end of the last episode.
That evening, the team and group head out for dinner, where they watch as Seung-Soo takes pictures of his food, prompting the others to watch him with great interest. Midway through eating, Seung-Soo calls for Mr Ko, eventually heading over and speaking to him about the team.
He expresses concerns about people being moved on before the Junior Managing Director arrives and stirs things up further, applauding Mr Ko after offering him the seat of head coach. Seung-Soo confronts the Director over this brash decision though as he leaves, prompting both the current Head Coach and Mr Ko to discuss the situation inside over drinks.
Unfortunately things become heated pretty quickly until Se-Young breaks things up. The next day, the team are summoned to Seung-Soo’s office where he asks them about the scouting. He goes on to question why they didn’t pick the brightest rookie and presses Mr Ko and the others around the hierarchy in force and just why they asked for more time at the draft.
Getting nowhere, Seung-Soo leaves, prompting Se-Young to hurry after him and question him over his actions. Instead, he heads out and finds Won-Seub scouting and questions him over what he’s doing, insinuating that he’s nosing around. After an altercation between the two in the evening, Seung-Soo and Won-Seub discuss the scouting before he heads over to the hospital and visits Min-Ho, finding out about his injured arm and telling him to take a rest. Outside though, he finds out more about Won-Seub’s character thanks to Min-Ho himself, and how he’s been overly-protective of his elbow. Won-Seub even went so far as to get into a fight with the head coach.
As the episode closes out, Seung-Soo realizes the corruption rife with the entire Min-Ho situation and looks set to fire him, as Se-Young confronts his Mother, while a shadowy figure watches from afar in the car. Before we find out what happens with this however, the episode ends on an agonizing cliffhanger.
Hot Stove League turns its attention to scouting this week and with a lot more insight around the hierarchical powers at play, this baseball drama does well to shed some light on the various issues at work. It’s well known that corruption exists in many sports and seeing Won-Seub right at the heart of this late on is a reminder that this can sometimes filter all the way up the chain of command.
While there isn’t anything that stands out that much during today’s episode, there’s enough here to make for an interesting watch nonetheless. The political angle is an interesting one and seeing behind the scenes to one of Korea’s beloved sports certainly makes for a more unique and interesting slant on proceedings. Quite how this one will play out tomorrow remains to be seen but for now, Hot Stove League is a pretty enjoyable Korean drama and well worth a watch.
|Hot Stove League is available to watch on Viki. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!|