A change of heart

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2016

In the late-90s, there was an inane dating game show called Change of Heart where couples in tumultuous relationships were sent on dates with other people then asked back to the set to talk about said dates while their significant others sat backstage, a camera fixed on them, as they silently seethed. This, of course, was long before Tinder, and dating—and by extension sex—was slightly more complicated than a swipe right.

At the end of the show, the feuding couple decided if they would work it out—life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend—or if they had a “change of heart” and wanted to either pursue a second date with their newbie or go it alone.

Total transparency: I watched the show with a religious fervor.

I often use relationship analogies to explain the complicated feelings I have for the Red Sox, which are admittedly creepy and slightly pathological. Each season, my relationship with the Red Sox ebbs and flows. There are times when we’re figuratively spooning on a blanket, watching the tides under the moonlight, and other times when things are volatile and we’re throwing dishes.

After a last place finish in 2014 and an abominable first half of the year, The Red Sox and I were on the verge of splitting. But by August, the team they that took the field on Opening Day had essentially left and a pack of young stubs had arrived in their place.

I had a new date.

My beau from April to July had Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Hanley Ramirez, Justin Masterson and “Glass Joe” Buchholz, most of who are either injured or traded. The team I’m currently dating fields Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo, Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez, Travis Shaw and Blake Swihart. They look a lot like my ex and have many of the same characteristics—Mookie Betts, Joe Kelly and Xander Bogaerts—but they’re younger and dynamic and fun. They take me out for ice cream, and we enjoy long walks in the woods and sleeping in on Sunday mornings.

In other words, I’ve had a “change of heart.”

In fact, I’m so smitten in my new relationship that I want to write it in the sky, scream it to the world. In the past month, the Red Sox have been more exciting to watch than any team in recent memory, including the World Series Champions in 2013.

For example, this team continues to play hard, spitting in the face of futility. I haven’t crunched the numbers, so I can’t say with certainty that they’re mathematically out of the race for the second Wild Card spot, but I have a better chance of landing a date with Olivia Munn than the Red Sox have of seeing the postseason.

Still, they keep grinding out wins, and since Aug. 1, Jackie Bradley Jr. has been the hottest hitter in baseball. Joe Kelly, who I mocked in an off-season article for claiming he’d win the Cy Young, has pitched like a veritable Cy Young candidate lately, rattling off eight straight wins, the first Red Sox pitcher to accomplish this since some guy named Pedro.

Additionally, the BBC in the outfield—Betts, Bradley, Castillo—has been electric. Since scooping the dogshit (aka, Hanley Ramirez) out of leftfield, interim manager Torey Lovullo has showcased one of the most exciting defensive outfields since Rice, Lynn and Evans. Yes. I just went there.

Maybe I’m being too idealistic, led by my heart and not my mind, but while many fans have turned off their televisions, I’ve found new love. And I could care less that we’re not going to the postseason this year.

Waiting will only make it more satisfying when we finally do.