BOSTON - The coda to the series win the Red Sox had over the Cubs this weekend was inadvertently delivered by a couple of alcohol-fueled fans outside Fenway Park after Sunday night's 5-1 Boston victory.
Apparently bent on heckling any blue-clad Cubs fans they saw, these two young men began chanting, "Barton! Barton!"
Too nice, they couldn't even get the name right.
That was one of the lessons that I -- and thousands of other Cubs fans who either live in the Boston area or who made the trip from Chicago and parts west for this historic interleague series -- learned from our weekend in The Hub. Baseball fans in New England are unfailingly nice. Even walking down the street in Boston wearing Cubs garb, we were greeted with smiles and kind words from the natives. Perhaps they can afford to do so. After all, they've got two World Series titles in the last eight years. That sort of thing would make the fans of any team smile.
The lessons of the trip to Boston for the Cubs and Cubs fans can't be learned on the streets of Boston, though, nor even in the cramped grandstand seats at Fenway Park. If vendors there sold knee braces, they'd do a brisk business to fans who can barely move once they're settled into their wooden seats that could have been sat in by fans in suits and bowler hats 99 years ago, or so it would seem. Layers of paint are the only thing separating parts of Fenway from its near-century-old beginnings; Pesky's Pole, the name given to the foul pole in right field, is covered with graffiti, though it gets repainted a different shade of yellow each offseason, or so I was told.
The lessons learned by Cubs brass on this trip shouldn't be the festive atmosphere outside Fenway on Yawkey Way before each game; those lessons are more accurately named Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, Jed Lowrie, Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon and the others who don the traditional white and red uniforms and just go out there and win. The Cubs say they want to replicate what the Red Sox have: 659 consecutive sellouts at Fenway and a rabid fanbase that will pay just about any price to get into the 99-year-old ballpark.
In order to do so, they can't simply close off Wrigleyville streets for a fan festival. The festival has to be on the field. It may take time; the Red Sox suffered some losing seasons in the 1990s before putting together the team that now appears headed for a 14th consecutive winning season and potential seventh postseason appearance in the last nine years.
Cubs management should be commended for wanting that. But it has to be done on the field first. "The Fenway Experience" was great. But for Boston fans, it's all about the winning. "The Wrigley Experience" won't be a winner until the team is.