The response of baseball players from the pre-steroids era to the use of performance-enhancing drugs range far and wide: from anger to indifference to reflective comments about how they would have reacted if given the same chance to use steroids with no punishment during their own careers. Few players can offer the same kind of insight, as Pete Rose.
"I'm willing to give a guy a second chance," Rose said. "Would I vote for A-Rod right now based on his record? Right now I would."
Shortly after that, however, Rose said that the use of performance-enhancing drugs was worse than gambling, because it affected the outcome and integrity of games. And since Rose himself can't get in because of his gambling, by the transitive law of the Hall of Fame, he is in fact arguing for his own inclusion.
The problem with Rose's comparison is that gambling on baseball was banned when Rose did it. PED use fell into a much murkier area until 2004's testing and punishment program went into place. It was illegal, just as amphetamine use was illegal when players were loading up on greenies in baseball clubhouses.
Rose's erratic take on PED use didn't stop there. He said he would be upset if a drug user passed him on baseball's hit list because records are sacred.
"If you can change records because you did something illegal, it's just not right. I believe baseball records are sacred."
Just after that, though, he said that he considered Barry Bonds baseball's all-time home run king because no one has ever proven that Bonds took steroids. That's only true if you ignore the fact that Bonds himself admitted (unwittingly) using steroids.
Unfortunately, Rose never discussed Roger Clemens, because he's the player in the steroid era whose experience best mirrors his own. Rose issued emphatic denial after emphatic denial about betting on baseball in the face of overwhelming evidence that he did, and Clemens is doing the same thing now. Rose ignored and evaded questions that weakened those denials while sounding convinced of his innocence. Clemens is following the same script.
Eventually Rose admitted to gambling, but it was too late for him to restore his place in the baseball firmament. You have to wonder if Clemens will wind up the same way.