THE BLOG
09/26/2014 10:41 am ET Updated Nov 26, 2014

The Lesson of Derek Jeter: Blink, and 20 Years Go By

When he began, it was a different world...

I followed his minor league exploits in Baseball America, which came in the mail every other week. At night, I'd go onto the World Wide Web through a dial-up connection, which died whenever someone picked up a phone. Onto some "fan forum" I'd spew 90-proof bile about Danny Tartabull and tell the world about this future Yankee shortstop: Robert Eenhoorn was his name. Next morning, Alphonso and I would waste hours at work, shooting emails back and forth, wondering if Daryl Boston could turn it around...

My oldest son was six. Imagine that. My daughter wasn't even born. I played pick-up basketball games on Sunday afternoons, and on Saturdays, we'd visit the zoo. We hauled a massive diaper bag, where at the bottom we sometimes stashed cans of beer -- security guys don't plunge hands into diaper bags. We were learning the art of parenthood, one game at a time.

God, it was yesterday...

Twenty years, a minute ago...

These days, the back always aches, the hair is thin, and the house creaks and moans, because no kids live here. Evenings used to be filled with laughter and tantrums -- unbridled chaos: a mix of Barney the dinosaur, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Nirvana. Now, every few minutes, you can hear the refrigerator rumble on.

But not last night. Last night, you heard yelling. My wife and I paced and shouted, juked and cheered. I stood in the front hall, watching YES Network in one room and listening to John Sterling from another. We held our old playoff positions. And when it happened, when he singled to right and the winning run scored, you would have thought the Yankees just won the World Series. And then, when he walked out to the empty shortstop position and bent over for his last time, the lesson of Derek Jeter hit me, loud and clear:

Savor every grounder.

Some folks grumble about the pace of baseball. They say the game moves too slowly to sate the modern A.D.D. appetite. They say football is the true American pastime. And, yes, occasionally, you think you've become frozen in time, and that, dear God, the ninth inning will never, ever, get here. But you blink, and twenty years go by...

Savor every grounder, folks. Like they say at Steiner Collectibles, there is a limited supply.

We won't see another Derek Jeter. I hope you got the message.