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You must believe in spring.

A little thematic music.

As three separate storm systems try to decide whether to bombard the East Coast, I am already looking past them to spring.

It is a ritual for me, late each year, to draw up a weekend-by-weekend list of the coming year’s baseball games that will take place within driving distance of my house from mid-March through the end of September.

(The list also incorporates out-of-town trips anticipated during the following year’s baseball season, as well as work obligations that may limit my ability to reach games on certain weekends.)

I noticed yesterday morning that the pro and college teams within range of my house have already posted schedules for 2013. And, by the end of the day, the Big 2013 Baseball List was mostly drawn up.

So far it includes the Philadelphia Phillies; the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders; and five colleges in the Lehigh Valley.

The list is still waiting for one or two colleges, and for the summer leagues for college-age kids that operate here in eastern Pennsylvania and back home in western New York. They always seem to be the last to post their schedules.

But they’re worth waiting for, because those might be the best games of the year. No mascots, no insistent promotions (some teams don’t even sell food), just 50 people in the stands on a summer night who are there for nothing but the sounds and rhythms of baseball.

There’s a note of surrender on this year’s list. After years of including the Single-A minor-league teams in Williamsport and State College, I left them off this year. I love the New York-Penn League in concept, but I’m never actually going to drive two hours to go see it.

I’m still debating whether to include the Mets. Supposedly I can drive about halfway into New Jersey and take trains the rest of the way to Citi Field. I have long been tempted to take a day off work and catch a businessman’s special afternoon game, but I never have. I might not be ready to surrender that dream quite yet.

The first game on my list is Sunday, March 10, when Lehigh Carbon Community College is scheduled to host Sussex Community College.

That’s 84 days from now … not that I’m counting.


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