Thank You, Carole!

August 10, 2007

I sometimes take for granted how many people see what I do on a daily basis. It’s amazing the amount of emails and letters I receive. Some are critical, most are positive and encouraging, and all of them reflect the passion and pride that the people of Western Pennsylvania are famous for. One letter really stands out for me. It came from a woman named Carole. She recently sent me a well-conditioned, black and white photo of the 1949 Steelers team. I remember thinking: ‘Hmm…that was nice.’ But, then I read the handwritten letter she sent with it and it suddenly meant a whole lot more. Carole wrote: “Dear Mr. Burton, my husband has had this photo for many, many years and since his passing three years ago at 71 years old, I keep coming across this picture in a box of his things and think it’s fitting that I send it to you.” Carole went on to write: “You probably have access to any and all the pictures you want, but I wanted to send it to you instead of giving it to someone else.” Now, I don’t know why Carole chose me to hold on to her late husband’s prized momento, but I sure am grateful that she did. Whenever I’m having a bad day or maybe just feeling a little down, I plan to look at that photo, and more importantly, the letter that came with it. I got into this business mainly because I thought it would be a fun way to make a living. (And believe me, it is!) But, I also wanted to touch people’s lives in a positive way if I could. That photo and that letter is proof to me that maybe, just maybe, I’m doing something right. Carole, thank you, and God bless!

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Jon Burton’s blog about Barry Bonds generated a lot of feedback from readers of ThePittsburghChannel.com.

(If you haven’t read that blog post yet, scroll down the page a bit and check it out. The title is “Yes, I Am Rooting For Bonds!”)

Here’s a sample of the e-mails you sent in response …

Phillip said:
I am one of those guys who agrees with you. I have competed at a national level in bodybuilding and unfortunately I was one who used steroids.
He has played in an era when taking steroids was the norm not the unusual. He just leveled the playing field. Let me just say that the pitchers would have a greater advantage from the steroid use than the hitters. I would be willing to say that more pitchers take steroids than the everyday players.
Bonds is the greatest player in the game to date. My son is left handed. I teach him to swing like Bonds. Tell everyone that Bonds will break the home run record because he has the perfect swing and great hand eye coordination, not because he may have taken steroids. The only people who think the steroids may have been why he hit so many home runs do not know anything about either baseball or steroids. Like the media you know Rick Riley.
Every time he comes to town I take my kids to PNC Park. It is the only time I go. Not to see the pirates, but to see the greatest ball player of all time. I do not care to talk about his personality I do not know the man. I have never met him so I refuse to comment on his personality. As a former college baseball player and someone who has used steroids I believe I have a good understanding of the subject manner. No question he is the greatest baseball player I have seen. I can not wait for him to break it. My only regret is that he could not do it as a Pittsburgh Pirate.

Michael said:
Rooting for Bonds is fine. Your reasons are ridiculous. There is no proof that he took steroids or performance enhancing drugs? Do me a favor – look at his rookie year baseball card and put it next to any recent picture. Just look out how big his head got. It is rumored that his shoe size increased by two sizes as well. He can see the ball and hit it better than most. But how do you go from being a 30 to 40 home run guy in your prime to somebody who hits over 70 when most retire. A Roy Hobbs he’s not. There isn’t much of anything natural about Mr. Bonds except as you put it, “he’s a jerk.” I’ll forget about the record after his 15 minutes of fame are up. The sad thing is that Mr. Bonds will look himself in the mirror for the rest of his life knowing that he cheated and wonder if he could have done it naturally. What a sad way to live.

Bonds Basher said:
Root for Bonds?!?!
NO WAY!!
I am not a baseball fan. I remember when Bonds was with the Pirates, he was a damn baby!!!
Look at him, he is arrogant and ignorant.
Whether or not he took steroids doesn’t make a difference. He ignores the fans and the public.
If he breaks Hank Aaron’s home run record, I hope he celebrates by himself. He doesn’t appreciate the loyalty of fans. He deserves to have that “record” ball thrown at his face!!!

Jen said:
Life may not always be fair, but the record should hold with two categories, those who took steroids and those who didn’t. I think it is an injustice to put him in the same category as Hank Aaron, when most likely, Aaron did not take steroids. It’d be like letting the Tour De France guys who take the steroids to win, the same as the ones who did it fairly.

Heather said:
I am rooting for him too. If he did take the performance enhancers well it is the nature of the sport – and the world really. Hollywood celebrities have plastic surgery to enhance their appearance for roles. People have ghost writers to pen their autobiographies. Things are not always as they appear. I fail to see how anything he has done to earn this title has been any different.
With all due respect, are we so certain that the Babe and Mr. Aaron didn’t have a little help themselves?

Kerry said:
Jon, I’m surprised and saddened that you would stake your reputation on this low-life. I’m also disenchanted with using the race card regarding Aaron, comparing his acknowledged unfair treatment in an unfair time. I hoped we could have evolved FROM that, instead of constantly highlighting a time filled with so much injustice. Bonds had THE golden chance to re-write history, put a positive spin on baseball. Steroid use aside, Bonds could’ve been the home-run champion for himself AND Aaron. But he couldn’t begin to fill Aaron’s class-act shoes. He struck out big time.

RevHarris said:
Congratulations Barry!! I am so delighted that the record has fallen and he was able to press on in spite of all the negativity.
I am not sure what disturbs me more about this situation, the overwhelming hatred of an unproven allegation or the shear ignorance that supports the allegations.
I thought in the U.S., we were innocent until proven guilty. I have witnessed so many sportscasters making statements about this man’s character without one shred of evidence to support it. At what price is it worth the news on any level to do such things. I wonder how you would hold up under such strain? How your families would endure such negativity? How your children would deal with their peers? Frankly, I am ashamed of you all for your past behaviors and continued posture towards this man and suspect that no matter what happens from this point forward none of you will let him rest or give him the credit he is due. The record has fallen…and none of you can undo that. You can continue to take the low road and speak ignorantly about unproven facts or you can “MAN-UP” and admit he has the talent and the constitution to press on in spite of all your actions.
One last thing, is the saddest account of all your actions was listening to a small child who knows nothing about this man’s character call him a cheater…. children are not born hating or hold prejudices, they are trained. The fact that all the negativity has spawned a new generation of ignorance is sadder yet. For once in your little lives I would like to see some true reporting… without all the unnecessary crap, i.e., prejudices, lies and gosh selling the news… these athletes make the news in their ability to play the game. lets talk about talent and not trash… lol by the way,this is directed to ESPN, and all sports news local and nationally. You guys are just lame for going down that path… Barry.. keep batting!!! I only wish to some point he had been here in PGH to break the record…that would have been so cool to put it in your faces… LOL boo that!!!