It's looking like the only time Roger Clemens will take part in a trial is if the government decides to prosecute him for lying to Congress. Judge Keith P. Ellison of the U.S. Southern District Court in Houston dismissed most of the pitcher's defamation suit against Brian McNamee on Thursday. Ellison said that Houston wasn't the right venue for the case, because the alleged defamation took place in New York, and that McNamee's testimony to investigators with the Mitchell Report was protected under his immunity deal.
The only part of the case that the Judge didn't dismiss was a charge that McNamee defamed Clemens when he told Andy Pettitte that Clemens used steroids and human growth hormone. That's a pretty weak charge, however, since Pettitte has already testified under oath that their shared trainer was telling the truth about Clemens.
So it looks like the man with the third most strikeouts in major league history has struck out in his effort to defend his reputation. Now he's got to hope that either the grand jury impaneled to decide about an indictment for perjury or the judge in the ensuing trial rule in his favor. The latter may be a better hope, judging by the way the Barry Bonds case is playing out.
The judge in that case has indicated that she's unlikely to allow positive drug tests to be entered into evidence, which will make it quite difficult for prosecutors to prove that Bonds lied about knowingly taking steroids. The smoking gun evidence against Clemens, needles kept by McNamee which have Clemens DNA and steroid residue, could be considered an even more tenuous connection.
What's become clear over the last few years when it comes to baseball and steroids is that the only two good responses are admission or silence. Miguel Tejada's guilty plea and the ongoing cases against Clemens and Barry Bonds show that vehement denials have a way of coming back to bite you in the place where you injected those steroids in the first place.