Two weeks ago, we brought you the news of MLB Network's offseason schedule, with the inclusion of a show called Hot Stove that was introduced as a baseball-centric morning talk show. The debut was this Monday, and I went into the debut as a skeptic. My expectations were vastly exceeded by the show, hosted by Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds, with Ken Rosenthal and Lauren Shehadi making contributions as well.
Coming into the show, I thought it would be an irritating blend of First Take and Intentional Talk, which could be enough to drive someone insane. Instead, it was a lot like MLB Tonight, but more casual. Vasgersian and Reynolds were on a colorful set (in the newly-created Studio K of MLB Network studios) and interviewed several players in the debut episode, including Mike Trout, Torii Hunter, Bryce Harper (and his father), and Todd Frazier. The interviews were pretty much what you'd expect, nothing very hard-hitting but entertaining and informative.
Rosenthal's role was the same as it usually is on MLB Network: the insider providing news and rumors about teams and players and their potential offseason moves this winter. He was essentially setting up Vasgersian and Reynolds for discussions, and the two performed about as you'd expect: informative, but not overly detailed. Shehadi's role is essentially that of the social media savant, reading questions off of Facebook and Twitter while also providing a little bit of format for the show as well.
As a host, Vasgersian feels a lot less forced than Chris Rose on Intentional Talk, and Reynolds isn't anywhere near as grating as Kevin Millar. If you're a baseball fan that needs a step back in the winter from the football/basketball-forward agenda thrown forth by other morning shows, this is a good alternative... so far.