A spoiler-free review of “Hot Stove League” by a non-baseball fan

Written by Iana Divinagracia

All photos from SBS

Hot Stove League recently scored and took home the trophy by winning “Best Drama” in 56th Baeksang Awards last June 5, 2020. This SBS drama aired from December 13, 2019 to February 14, 2020 and gained popularity for its fresh and fascinating concept as well as its well-written and intriguing characters played by star-studded casts.

How I ended up watching it?

I have seen a lot of positive tweets about Hot Stove League in the first quarter of 2020; still, despite its promising storyline, I ignored it thinking it was “just a sports themed drama” a non-baseball fan like me would never enjoy. However, after watching the Age of Youth Series, I ended up loving Song (played by Park Eun Bin); as I wanted to see Eun Bin more, I decided to give Hot Stove League a try because it was her recent project.

Brief background of the drama

The professional baseball team Dreams ranked last for several consecutive seasons that led to the decision of the current general manager to take the responsibility for the team’s loss; then, he resigned. With the aim to always win, Baek Seung Soo (Nam Goong Min) became the new general manager of the team. He worked together with the Operations Manager Lee Se Young (Park Eun Bin) and many others.

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Due to his cold personality and unique style in handling the “business of sports,” his actions were often misinterpreted by his colleagues. A lot of “annoying characters” will enter into the picture but Seung Soo will stand firm for what he believed will help the Dreams to win.

My honest thoughts

I was truly amazed at how detailed the sports baseball is; including how the baseball management were creatively portrayed in the drama. The terms used were overwhelming at first that I had to stop for a day after episode 4 but managed to understand it along the way.

It took me quite some time to understand each episode because I had zero background in baseball; however, I didn’t expect I’d find it really enjoyable at the same time. It’s as if I’m off to a new adventure in an unfamiliar place learning new things. Everything was really new but exciting to me!

Business in sports, match fixing, I honestly didn’t know these exist! I had to ask my boyfriend who, thankfully, had the ample knowledge in sports to confirm if everything that I had been seeing in the drama is the reality. Personally, I never thought I’d appreciate a sports drama like Hot Stove League in my entire life! I never thought I’d find something I had no interest in very entertaining.

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The curiosity about what’s going to happen next got me hooked. The characters’ back stories made me really emotional that I ended up liking everyone in the Dreams even the annoying ones.

Hot Stove League is really impressive!

About the writer

I was surprised to know that the person behind this gem is a rookie screenwriter (yes, you read this part right), Lee Shin Hwa. Hot Stove League is the author’s maiden work that left the viewers and Nam Goong Min himself with very good impression.

In a translated Instagram post of stoveleague_wr which circulated on Twitter, it says that Nam Goong Min personally met with Writer Lee after reading the work and showered the writer with compliments.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not a baseball fan or a fan of any sports. A fun drama about sports and life like Hot Stove League is something you shouldn’t miss!

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