When I was growing up, I went to Church every Sunday like a good Catholic girl and I actually enjoyed it. I'd recite every part of the Mass, even the Priest's, though not out loud, and I'd be slightly bummed when it was over. I remained that way until I was a teenager and after that, even if I wasn't going to Church every Sunday, I considered myself a practicing Catholic. I'd adhere to the strict rules of Lent: sacrificing something for 40 days, not eating meat on Fridays, fasting on certain days, etc. I'd even go to confession even though, I didn't really have anything to feel guilty about at 8-years-old.
Somewhere along the way, I gave up on it. Maybe it was all of the suffering going on in the world. How could a God let that happen? Maybe it was the fact that I'd pray for people - family members, friends - to recover from illness and they never would. What was the point of praying if it wasn't ever going to work? So now, at 39-years-old, I'm a disillusioned Agnostic, who isn't sure of what the heck is really going on in the grand scheme of things.
And while I don't believe in many things anymore, there is one belief that I have for 2014: I believe Derek Jeter is not going be a broken down shell of his former All-Star self like others are predicting.
Is he quickly approaching his 40th birthday? Yes. Is he coming off an injury-shortened season? Yes. Is he still Derek Jeter? Yes.
So why would you ever doubt him?
Many people thought his career was over when he started the 2011 season slowly but after his calf injury healed and after he got over the 3000th hit hump, he ended up having a great second half. He followed that up with a career year in 2012.
Sure, he was younger but so what? It was the same thing.
"He's too old." "He's done."
His 3000th hit should be a reason why you should never doubt Jeter.
Do you remember all of the jokes leading up to it? People were predicting that hit 3,000 would be a weak grounder and most people were saying things like, "I bet Jeter will hit a home run for hit 3000! Yeah right!"
When the ball left his bat that warm July day, I was in my den with my parents and I fist pumped harder than Francisco Cervelli after a grand slam. I was so happy Jeter shut some people up by hitting a no-doubt home run to the left field bleachers and was even more elated when he finished that day 5-5 and that his fifth hit in the eighth inning of the game, led the Yankees to victory.
People couldn't joke about that.
And I'll be the first to admit that there have been times when I've soured on Derek Jeter. In fact, I wrote something a bit disparaging about him in 2011 when he was struggling so I was one of the people doubting him during the first half of that year.
I've learned my lesson but others clearly haven't. In 2014, you have writers imagining scenarios in which Jeter calls it quits early a la Mike Schmidt and scouts talking about how frail he looked during Spring Training and declaring his career over.
It's Derek Sanderson Jeter, five-time World Champion and future Hall of Famer and you should never give up on him.