Happy Days in Wrigleyville

Fore! Soriano's 13th-inning Grand Salami sends Cubs past Astros

Fore! Soriano's 13th-inning Grand Salami sends Cubs past Astros

CKOW salutes Alfonso Soriano, whose towering, walk-off grand slam beyond Wrigley Field’s centerfield juniper bushes in the 13th inning Monday night sent the Cubs to their 11th win in the past 14 games. The 5-1 win over Houston preserved the Cubs’ 1/2-game first-place lead over St. Louis. Chicago faces the Astros again tonight in a game that marks the return of Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who went on the disabled list earlier this month in classic Cub fashion: breaking his right big toe after jumping over the dugout fence.

Soriano is from San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, a country where they grow some corn, but not nearly as much as they do sugarcane, rice, coffee beans and cacao, the bean from which cocoa is derived. The Dominican therefore imports a lot of the corn it needs from the U.S., and is part of a Latin American market that’s a key export source for our farmers. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Dominican imported about 1.01 million metric tons of U.S. corn in the 2007-08 marketing year, ranking it No. 11 among all countries and far behind Japan’s 15.8 million metric tons, but still nothing to sneeze at.

Now back to Soriano and our Wrigleyville home: “Fonzie,” as many Cub fans know, has been in a wretched slump much of the season, but has been swinging a hot bat the last few weeks. That’s an encouraging development for Cubs Nation after the team’s middling, muddling, often-painful-to-watch first half. But as Midwest corn growers who suffered through a cold, wet spring will tell you, it’s a long summer and there’s plenty of time to bounce back from a slow start.

Soriano hasn’t completely worked his way out of CKOW’s doghouse. He failed to run out a ground ball to third base last night, punctuated his 13th-inning blast with some posing and preening that would make some NBA players wince and is still hitting a pedestrian .253 on the season. But Fonzie, you keep coming up big like you did last night, and all will be forgiven. You may just earn yourself an ear of corn from this year’s crop.

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