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SI: Why did you write the book?
Schmidt: I wanted people to get a clearer perspective on why baseball went through that period with substance abuse and to defend the players. There has always been pressure at the professional level of sports, and players are vulnerable to that pressure. I'm not making excuses, but I wanted to paint a realistic picture of what was going on in baseball.
SI: How rampant were steroids in your era [1972-89]?
Schmidt: None that I know of, and I don't think I'm naive. Surely steroids existed, but I think more in professional wrestling and weightlifting.
SI: In the book you write that Barry Bonds is a friend. Can you be objective when it comes to his accomplishments?
Schmidt: While what's written in [the book Game of Shadows] sounds incriminating, I still give him the benefit of the doubt until there is an admission or until there's a positive test. So as a fellow athlete and a friend, I'm going to give Barry the benefit of the doubt and say he just worked hard. Mechanically, he has become the greatest hitter in the history of the sport.
SI: Is the steroid era in baseball over?
Schmidt: Without a doubt. It's not to say something else won't surface. But I think for the next couple of years we're going to see a very clean ball game. A few cups of coffee might be the only thing that players take the field with.
SI: You've been an advocate for Pete Rose. Is there anything he can do for reinstatement?
Schmidt: The problem is he is hanging out there in limbo. The commissioner, for some reason, is unwilling to act either way. They have decided the thing they can do is to not do anything. If they truly believe Pete doesn't belong back in baseball, they need to make that call. But they are unwilling to make any call at all. Baseball purgatory, that's where Pete Rose is.