Roger Clemens plays hardball

As a pitcher, Roger Clemens didn't merely get hitters out. He dominated them, brushed them back, threw at their heads. He sent messages. That dominating aspect of his personality apparently works less well off the field.

Clemens hasn't merely denied the charges of former trainer Brian McNamee that he used steroids while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees; he has accused McNamee of being unstable. The denial, which he made before a U.S. House committee in 2008, led to a federal grand jury indictment last month. The accusation of McNamee's instability landed him yesterday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on defamation charges.

Is accusing your accuser defense or defamation? That's the issue before Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr.

Arguing both sides are three lawyers on various Super Lawyers lists around the country. Rusty Hardin and Joe M. Roden of Rusty Hardin & Associates in Houston, Texas, represent Clemens, while Richard Emery of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, in New York, represents McNamee.

We'll keep track to see if any brushback pitches get thrown.

Historical tidbit: A fourth lawyer on a Super Lawyers list, Charles Scheeler of DLA Piper in Baltimore, Md., was the man who sat between McNamee and Clemens during that 2008 congressional hearing. In a 2009 article for Super Lawyers titled, "The Lawyer Who Cleaned Up Baseball," Scheeler called it, "the worst middle seat on a plane you ever had."