Hot Stove League returns with more politically charged sport drama, with an episode that begins with Seung-Soo confronting Won-Seob around the envelope of money. It looks suspiciously like a bribe but as he sits with Won-Seob and speaks to him, Seung-Soo learns more about the corruption behind the scenes and the hardships Min-Ho had; that’s why Won-Seob encouraged him to use money to get ahead. Despite calling him a good man, Seung-Soo fires him as a scouting manager. As they drive back, he tells them he has no regrets over what he did.
Back at the office, Se-Yeong digs a little deeper into the bribery scandal and asks Jae-Hee for advice before coming face to face with Seung-Soo. She feeds back to him what she’s found out as Won-Seob returns to the office, only to be immediately pulled into a meeting along with the other scouts. There, Seung Soo is ruthless, reducing wages for Won-Seob before turning his attention to Mr Ko. The list of rookies that have never improved is lengthy, and he goes on to mention a missing core player for the team. Backing up his suspicions, he plays the video from the draft of him looking at the parents’ stand. Adding the proverbial cherry to the cake is Chang Kwon, a player from the Vikings who arrives and spills the details around a big scandal.
It turns out Mr Ko deposited 50,000 into his account and wasting little time, Seung-Soo fires Mr Ko on the spot. Taking his place however, is Won-Seob. They take the decision to the Junior Managing Director and he agrees with Seung-Soo’s decision, officially firing Mr Ko. In private, the Director reminds Seung-Soo that he needs to be careful not to get too invested in Dreams given his promise. Seung-Soo reassures him though, telling him he needs to win first and then disband afterwards.
Se-Young bids farewell to Mr Ko outside but a news report breaking about Andy Gordon rattles the Operations Team, prompting them to band together, where he decides to let Andy go and replace him with a different thrower. They sit and watch different players before catching a lucky break in a rookie named Miles. Deciding to try and seal the deal, they fly out to the US and meet him.
Se-Young and Seung-Soo arrive first but are met by Jae-Hee who tags along using his own vacation time. They make it to the stadium and watch as Miles stretches out before unleashing a devastating throw, showing his true power. Se-Young worries about the ease of signing him and lo and behold, her concerns come to fruition the next day. Miles’ agent doubles the price overnight and as Miles reaches 155km/h for throwing balls, they all stand and contemplate what to do next. Seung-Soo looks at the agent, determined and ready to play his hand as the episode closes out on a cliffhanger.
What will Seung-Soo decide to do next? It’s something that’s bound to be weighing heavily on the minds of fans and Hot Stove League certainly leaves things hanging in the balance. With an episode almost exclusively dedicated to scouting, this Korean sport drama does well to keep things interesting as we dive deeper into the foundation of the club. Corruption truly is everywhere too and seeing Mr Ko right at the heart of this shows how deep this web goes. Hopefully the corruption cobwebs covering Dreams’ infrastructure have been cleared out now and with a tantalizing cliffhanger to chew over this week, who knows what direction this is likely to go next.
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