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Well, we’re but a week into Spring Training play, and already a close race has begun. The race for most-used baseball phrase of the year, that is. While “flu-like symptoms” and the always competitive “strained oblique” are neck and neck for second place, “visa problems” has the calendar in its favor and leads by a mile.

Why baseball players arrive late to Spring Training because of visa problems, year after year after year, is beyond me. I mean, it’s not like Spring Training has a revolving schedule: March one year, January the next and November the year after that, and Major League Baseball keeps it a secret intentionally to mess up the travel plans of its employees. C’mon guys, fill out the bleeping forms and show up to work on time.

It should come as no surprise that former Padre and current Mets lightweight pitcher, Chan Ho Park, missed his first exhibition start, falling victim to the dreaded visa problems phenomenon. But tell me that’s not fitting. Perfect, actually.

Sure, we pick on Chan Ho Park because he’s an easy target. (Of course, that’s kind of the point with easy targets — you pick on them because they’re easy.) And yeah, lots of players have visa problems leading to their truancy, while it’s Park who gets the heat. Like I said, he’s an easy target. You just can’t miss when you pick on him.

Remember, glove conquers all.

— HOWARD COLE

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