I have a tendency to frame my fan/team relationship with the Red Sox—watching every game and investing certain parts of my soul in the outcome—using romantic analogies.

My wife might argue that it straddles the fence of homoeroticism, but what does she know? She binges for days on The Real Housewives of New York then tries to moralize.

But this season, I’ve had a hard time warming up to my date. Sure, the Red Sox currently have the car parked, their arm around my shoulder—they’re four games in first place with a chance to curb stomp the Yankees this weekend—but I hadn’t committed to them.

Until now, following a run of eight wins. Now we’re going steady. We’re an item, the Red Sox and me.

It’s true. I’m going to slow dance to “Stairway to Heaven” with this team and pause awkwardly when the electric guitars kick in. I might leave a love bite on their neck. Who knows?

Admittedly, there is an ass-ton—to use a specific metric—to hate about the 2017 Boston Red Sox, and it took four months for me to move through these issues. Start with David Price (and his dog, Astro). Here is a man making $30 million a season, more money than any major league pitcher not named Clayton, and Price acts like a petulant child, a thin-skinned and whiny baby when it comes to the Boston media.

Price’s diss of Dennis Eckersley, for example, a junior high school ambush with his friends clapping and guffing it up behind him, certainly wasn’t a good look for Price, Dustin Pedroia or manager John Farrell. It has made this team difficult to cheer on.

There’s also the fact that the 2017 Red Sox lack a certain pop, a pizzazz, a “Je ne sais quoi” (there’s the ambiguity my wife references: dropping phrases in French). But other than that goofy outfielders’ dance and pose after a win, the team, without David Ortiz, has lacked any real personality and or identity of their own, aside from being bitchy.

Since the trading deadline, however, when the Sox brought in Eduardo Nunez—who I was sure would someday become a random name during a round of Red Sox bar trivia, existing alongside Shea Hillenbrand and Mark Bellhorn—and the rookie Rafael Devers, the team has run off eight straight wins, going into a series in the Bronx where the games really matter, especially for New York.

Furthermore, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve had a Chris Sale in my shorts since the Red Sox signed him (more evidence for my wife to plead her case). The addition of Chris Sale has been electric. Not since Pedro in his prime has there been this type of attention and anticipation surrounding a starting pitcher.

And Drew Pomeranz and Rick Porcello have been more than serviceable of late, Pomeranz making a case for himself as legitimate number two starter. And, of course, if Price (and his dog, Astro) comes around at some point, this is a team that can contend.

It’s taken awhile to warm up to them, but it’s stunning how success makes a team more attractive. As we enter the Dog Days of summer, I’m finally onboard. The Patriots are starting preseason, but the Red Sox are still visible on our radar.

It’s a date.

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Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. His most recent books include Hangover Breakfasts, a collection of short prose pieces (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), a novella titled Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and his new and selected poems titled My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014). A new collection of short fiction titled Almost Christmas will be released in 2017. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com

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