4 Things We Loved & 2 Things We Hated About The First Half of “Stove League”
You don’t have to know baseball to fall in love with “Stove League.”
SBS’s new drama is making home runs in South Korea for a reason: it’s heartfelt and addicting. In the first nine episodes, Dreams — consistently the worst professional baseball team in South Korea — is forced to undergo drastic changes, starting with a new general manager. Not only does GM Baek Seung Soo (Namgoong Min) turn everything upside down during the off-season, he shocks the management staff and players with his wit, cold personality, and kindness. Here are four things we loved and two things we hated about “Stove League” so far.
Warning: minor spoilers below!
LOVED: Baek Seung Soo’s witty comebacks
Stuck with corrupt staff and aggressive players, GM Baek Seung Soo copes in tight situations by dishing out witty comebacks with his dry sense of humor. You can’t help but feel frustrated (and happy) with Baek Seung Soo. It’s no wonder why “Stove League” feels nothing like the American baseball film “Moneyball.” Baek Seung Soo is fleshed out, much more than a smart GM who uses stats to make wise decisions. We can’t wait to know more about why Baek Seung Soo is cold and guarded with his feelings and hilariously sarcastic the next.
LOVED: How the drama promoted diversity and equality
It’s a boys’ club in “Stove League” for sure. Operations Team Leader Lee Se Young (Park Eun Bin) deals with disrespect and yet plows on fearlessly, stepping up whenever there’s a fight or discrimination. She knows firsthand how difficult it is to be the nation’s first female Operations Team Leader of a professional baseball team, and her feisty personality and compassion are much-needed assets to the team. Similarly, Baek Seung Soo’s brother Yeong Soo — a famous baseball data analyst under the pen name Robinson — is forced to put up with able-ism in his daily life. Inspired by Jackie Robinson, he handles ableist remarks calmly. Their determination and struggles are simply a breath of fresh air in a sports K-drama.
LOVED: Inspirational quotes
GM Baek Seung Soo is cold as much as he is compassionate to his players. In a way, his coldness stems from a need to be fair and is a defense mechanism from traumatic experiences. Although he barely speaks or reacts the way his staff expects him to, Baek Seung Soo delivers gems of wisdom and comforts his players and coaches warmly. He’s the first to believe in them: “I didn’t make you a team leader to suddenly do a good job. I made you a team leader to continue what you were doing.” His frustration with arrogant, ageist staff is relatable: “Why should a seniority system remain in the professional world?”
LOVED: How the baseball players and staff feel like family
We came for the baseball and stayed for the friendships.
The family dynamics and friendships in “Stove League” add another layer to “Stove League” and humanize the game to more than moving pieces around. For instance, Robert Gil isn’t the main character, yet his story was written beautifully, and we are able to understand issues baseball players have to deal with overseas. It’s moving to see Baek Seung Soo defend his players and treat them with respect and dignity.
HATED: The slow pacing in episode 1
The baseball game broke down exactly why Dreams is a failure and you can totally feel their frustration through the screen. But beyond the game, episode 1 spends too much time on introducing the Dreams staff and too little on Baek Seung Soo. It’s a slow start, but this drama is worth it.
HATED: Long episodes of contract negotiations
Yes, GM Baek Seung Soo is very competent and can get into people’s minds before they even catch him. Even though we love watching Baek Seung Soo play mind games and getting things done, the two episodes of contract negotiations dragged.
Can Baek Seung Soo help Dreams win a championship? We can’t wait for baseball season to start and to see Baek Seung Soo open up to his friends and family.
What did you love and hate about the first nine episodes? Let us know in the comments below!
If you haven’t already, catch the first episode of “Stove League”:
EvaCh10 loves Namgoong Min‘s dramas, especially “Chief Kim” and “Stove League.”