“Hot Stove” Season Officially Ends Tomorrow

MLB Network’s live offseason morning news show, “Hot Stove,” hosted by Matt Vasgersian, Harold Reynolds, and Lauren Shehadi ends tomorrow, March 1.

MLB-Network-Hot StoveI will miss it a lot. If you watched it, either live or having taped it, you got great information from the incomparable Ken Rosenthal, who had a spectacular offseason breaking news, and terrific discussion and analysis from Harold and Matt. In addition, Shehadi did an outstanding job keeping the show moving through the various gimmicks and social media needed for a live two-hour show.

What made this show unique was a great combination of a review of baseball news, breaking news, honest discussion, interviews, and analysis. It was the equivalent of the CBS Morning News in that it didn’t seem dumb or frivolous (see the “Today Show”) other than the weakly (no, that was not a spelling error) appearances by Mitch Williams.

The show did have drop-offs when the regulars were not there as the chemistry was thrown off. But more than that, replacements were not used to being able to provide the critical analysis that this show felt comfortable providing. Too frequently, MLB Network hosts (Brian Kenny, a major exception) feel as if they need to be PR spokesmen for the game and provide puffy news and analysis that is demeaning to the viewership and to themselves.

We really got to see Ken Rosenthal’s reportage skills in action on this show, not only with the information that he brought to the show but when a guest came on, Ken cut through the babble and often asked an incisive question. When Kenny wasn’t there, you would always hope for Jon Heyman as his replacement, another reporter who has great comfort on camera. The sporadic appearances from Peter Gammons were also always terrific, but too infrequent.

My fervent hope is that this show returns next hot stove season, with this team intact; it was must-see TV. In the meantime, if they want to regroup at 5 pm on the network, it would be greatly appreciated.