Lawyer: MLB pursued Alex Rodriguez

NEW YORK -- Lawyers for Alex Rodriguez presented the grounds for their lawsuit against Major League Baseball before a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday, citing former NBA bad boy Latrell Sprewell as the role model for their case.

In addition to restating many of the arguments in the tortious interference suit filed Oct. 3 in New York State Supreme Court -- that MLB investigators paid, harassed and threatened witnesses in "trying to take down the biggest name in the game" -- attorney Jordan Siev said baseball and commissioner Bud Selig "went way over the line" in attempting to "destroy Rodriguez's career and reputation at all costs."

"We think their conduct is tortious and potentially criminal," Siev said.

And in response to the contention of Joseph Baumgartner, an MLB attorney, that a court was not the "appropriate forum" to contest these issues because baseball contends they are covered by its collective bargaining agreement, Siev cited as precedent a lawsuit brought in 1998 by Sprewell against the NBA, which voided his contract with the Golden State Warriors after a physical altercation with coach P.J. Carlesimo.

That case was allowed to proceed but was ultimately dismissed by a federal judge, who also required Sprewell to pay the league's court costs.

Both sides are expected to file motions before judge Lorna Schofield on Friday -- baseball will move to have the suit dismissed and Rodriguez's side will move to have the case remanded back to state court, where it originated. Both sides are expected to file responses to the others' motions by Dec. 13, and the judge set a tentative hearing date of Jan. 23.

"On that date, I may hear oral arguments," Schofield said, "or I may just use it to say hello. Or I may just cancel the hearing altogether."

The judge noted the irony in the fact that both sides were moving to have the case removed from her courtroom by one means or another.

"It seems to me that neither side wants to be here," she said. "And yet, here you are."