Clemens makes his pitch
Roger Clemens put his right hand on the lectern, leaned down toward the microphone and made what might be the most important call of his life: “Not guilty, your honor.”
Those words, uttered Monday in a strong, confident voice marked the official beginning of a court case that could taint baseball even further and land the “Rocket,” a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, in jail.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton presided over an arraignment hearing that lasted less than 14 minutes in the ceremonial courtroom at the federal courthouse, across the street from the Capitol.
Walton set April 5 as the start of jury selection — the Monday of the first full week of the 2011 baseball season, and also around the time a case involving Barry Bonds, the all-time home-run king, could be wrapping up in San Francisco.
Clemens and Bonds, who chased history on the field throughout their careers, now could be chasing history off it.
They are both in jeopardy of becoming the first baseball star jailed because of a conviction related to performance-enhancing-drugs.
If convicted of six counts — three of making false statements, two of perjury and one of obstruction of Congress — Clemens could face up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.
Kim Clijsters, who returned a shot to Greta Arn during their first-round match at the U.S. Open in New York, faltered a little in the second set but looked solid overall in the first match of her title defense.