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The countdown to opening day has begun

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Every year about this time, the Omaha Storm Chasers purchase space on a billboard along I-80 westbound that includes a digital countdown to opening day.

I was on my way to my bowling league Monday night when the billboard caught my attention, and it sort of made me giddy.

Every year about this time, the Omaha Storm Chasers purchase space on a billboard along I-80 westbound that includes a digital countdown to opening day. For the record, the sign said 80 days, which would mean we are down to 78 now.

As a freelance writer who contributes to a number of newspapers and websites that aren't always sports related, baseball sort of slips from my consciousness during winter. It hibernates while I catch up on everything I put off during the baseball season.

But as I run errands at this time of year, the digital countdown shakes the old sleeping bear from its slumber and for the next few minutes I wonder which prospects I'll get to see play this coming season and I begin looking forward to the interesting baseball people I'll get to interview.

Last season I saw Yordano Ventura light up the radar gun at 102 mph, and Jonathan Villar rocket the ball toward first base from the hole at shortstop. I interviewed Manny Ramirez about his comeback and Branch Rickey III about the movie 42. And I got to witness the joy on players' faces during two celebrations in the Omaha clubhouse. It'll be a hard year to top.

But that's the beauty about this time of year. Everything is possible.