How bad is it? This bad:
The Patriots and the Red Sox are both going to be playing Sunday afternoon, but at Jerry Remy’s sports bar, in the shadow of Fenway Park, 40 of the 43 enormous televisions will be tuned to football, not baseball. And general manager Don Bailey can’t wait.
“The energy in here is going to be refreshed,” he said of the arrival of football season — and the Patriots season opener in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans.
At Pawsh dog boutique in Back Bay, co-owner Mike Maida has swept the Red Sox dog toys and vests from their prime location on the store’s center table — only tourists were buying Sox gear, he said — and replaced them with tiny Tom Brady jerseys, “Go Pats” dog treats, and football-shaped chew toys, which he quickly sold out of.
“This is a sports town, and people need something to look forward to,” said Maida. “Even the dogs.”
Technically, regular-season Major League Baseball doesn’t end until Oct. 3. But in Boston it’s been over for weeks. As the insults pile up — the 20-2 loss to the Oakland A’s, the regional Sports Illustrated cover of manager Bobby Valentine with his head in his hands, the dysfunctional front office — even the most dedicated Sox fans are looking for solace and self-respect elsewhere, namely on the gridiron.
“The Sox are all done,” said Mike Pires, 35, a heating and air conditioning installer from Canton. “I’m looking forward to the Super Bowl.”
How weak is the interest in the Sox? Despite the sellout streak touted by Sox brass, sales at Ace Ticket are moving at such a leisurely place that the CEO, Jim Holzman, is working only 45 hours a week, not 60, and he has dropped 15 pounds because he’s started swimming in his free time.
Alas, that’s weight the Patriots’ soaring popularity might put right back on him. Ticket sales for the team, which plays its home opener at Gillette Stadium Sept. 16 against the Arizona Cardinals, are on fire, he says.
“The Patriots demand this year is almost double what it was last year,” he said, noting that Pats tickets are selling for $100 to $500 per seat. That compares with just $15-$125 for the Sox. In happier times, that range was $30 to $250.
At J.P. Licks, sales of Red Sox batting helmet sundaes were down by more than 30 percent over the summer months compared with the same period last year, said Kimberly Diaz, the chain’s director of operations. Even hot fudge isn’t immune to the Sox collapse, it turns out, so J.P. Licks is trying to better its odds. “We’re looking into anything we could do as a sundae around the Patriots,” Diaz said. “They’re so popular.”
The Sox swoon is also having an effect on the lottery.
Lottery players — a superstitious bunch — are shunning Red Sox-themed instant tickets in favor of Patriots instant tickets — an unusual situation considering the Patriots haven’t even started regular-season play yet, said lottery spokeswoman Beth Bresnahan.
Since July 1, sales of $5 New England Patriots Instant Tickets have been outselling $5 Red Sox Instant Tickets by $100,000 per week, she said.
‘For my own sanity, I’m checking out.’
“When the sport is in season, if the team is performing well we have traditionally seen a spike in sales. Obviously, we are not seeing that spike in our Red Sox Instant Ticket portfolio this season.”
Saul Wisnia, author of “Fenway Park: The Centennial: 100 Years of Red Sox Baseball,” says that for the first time ever, he can’t wait for the baseball season to end.
“For my own sanity, I’m checking out,” he said, pointing out that he remains an enormous fan — albeit one who currently has his eyes closed.
And as the father of two, he wants to make sure his children, ages 8 and 11, remain loyal members of Red Sox Nation, and is discouraging them from watching more games this season.
“I don’t want to lose them,” said Wisnia, a senior publications editor-writer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the author of the forthcoming “Miracle at Fenway: An Oral History of the 2004 World Champion Red Sox.”
The Alpert-Wisnia clan isn’t really a “football family,” he said, but he’s playing up the Patriots nonetheless. His scheme is working: On Friday his daughter wore a pink Tom Brady jersey to sports day at her Newton school.
“She’s going with a winner,” he said.
None of this comes as any surprise to the Sox. The team’s chief operating officer, Sam Kennedy, acknowledged that one sign of fan interest — the no-show rate at games — may go as high as 15 percent. But, he said in an e-mail, that’s still well below the MLB average for all 30 teams. “We don’t pretend that demand is as intense as it normally has been.”
Many Sox fans criticize those who’ve jumped ship and say they are trying to stay positive, but that’s getting harder as the Sox woes become a source of fodder nationwide. A recent New Yorker cartoon showed traffic moving along a highway bridge with four lanes, three for “The Rest of Humanity” and one for “Red Sox Fans.” That lane ends abruptly, sending cars tumbling into the water.
Meanwhile, as Sunday afternoon approaches, even a local who’s going to be at the Red Sox game — a friend invited him — says he’s going to be focusing on football, not baseball.
“I’m going to be texting my dad asking ‘What’s the score?’ or ‘How do the Patriots look?’ ” said Bojan Bozovic, 28, a graduate student from Brookline. “You want to root for a team that has the potential of winning.”Beth Teitell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.