Finally Hot Stove League is back! I’ve been waiting impatiently for this one to return after it’s hiatus last Saturday and given the agonizing cliffhanger, this baseball drama returns with another solid episode. With more characterisation for Seung Soo and a clear divide beginning to grow between the Directors and Seung-Soo’s management style, all of this looks set to kick off in a big way after the bombshell reveal at the end.
Hot Stove League episode 6 returns with Seung-Soo avoiding the question asked by the reporter, prompting news reports to begin circulating. As they do, Se-Young heads home and speaks to her Mother about Seung-Soo’s credentials while Seung-Soo prepares himself for the next day, where reporters show up in their droves in a bid to catch Chang-Joo and ask him questions.
Kim Young Chae immediately makes her move following her unanswered question and confronts Seung-Soo around his ideas. However, he holds his nerve and bites back, silencing the journalist, while at the same time the Junior Managing Director comes under fire for the amount of press Dreams is receiving. After Chang-Joo’s training, the Operations Team get together to discuss their next step on the path to success, including the analytics and current structure of Dreams’ recruitment. After some deliberation, Seung-Soo decides to hold an open recruitment, where 10 people eventually apply. Nodding thoughtfully, he tells Jae-Hee and Se-Young that they’ll be interviewing people the following day.
The interviews begin and Seung Soo and Se-Young work together, whittling down the candidates until, to his surprise, Baek Young-Soo arrives. Se-Young praises him for his articles written regarding baseball analytics, including one about how heat changes players. He answers the questions well, mentioning sabermetrics and winning over the interviewers while Seung-Soo watches his brother silently. After hearing a lot of the questions, Seung-Soo turns his attention to his brother’s disability, prompting Se-Young to do damage control and remind Young-Soo that if he’s not picked, it’ll be because of his credentials, not his disability.
Seung-Soo ignores her and catches his brother off-guard, immediately asking how he got the injury in the first place. It’s here we cut back in time and see this play out in real-time and just why Baek Young-Soo is in a wheelchair. After the interview, Seung-Soo reveals the true nature of his relationship with his brother but Se-Young stands her ground and tells him he crossed the line bringing up his disability. As the day turns to night, Se-Young makes one final pledge to convince Seung Soo to make the right decision.
It’s a painful one for Seung-Soo to handle too, especially given his past, but one that sees his brother eventually pass the interview and start work the following day. It’s a big step and one that finally sees the General Manager let his guard down slightly. Unfortunately Seung-Soo is pulled into a meeting with the Directors soon after who tell him he needs to cut down the salaries by 30%. He tries to deflect and haggle with them but the Junior Managing Director is having none of it, putting Seung-Soo in a very difficult position.
Well, what about that for a cliffhanger. In most sports there’s usually some sort of arrangement in place between the Board Of Directors and the General Manager and although I can only speak on my knowledge for football (soccer), when this turns sour, it can spell disaster for the entire team. With salaries forced to be cut by 30%, there’s bound to be some fall-out from this in the near future and quite how Seung Soo is likely to handle this remains to be seen.
For now though, Hot Stove League continues to deliver a compelling baseball drama and although I, perhaps naively, wish there was more on-pitch action, I’m thoroughly enjoying this one nonetheless. Quite what will happen next is left wide open but thankfully we don’t have to wait too long to find out. Roll on tonight’s episode!
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