ROYALS MANAGER apologizes for remark about prayer and tequila

Saturday, May 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Kansas City manager Tony Muser apologized Friday for suggesting the slumping Kansas City Royals should pray less and drink more.

``If I hurt anybody's feelings, I apologize for that,'' Muser said. ``That was not my intent. I am a God-fearing man.''

After the Royals committed four errors Thursday in their third straight loss to Cleveland, Muser said, ``Chewing on cookies and drinking milk and praying is not going to get it done. ... I'd like them to go out and pound tequila rather than have cookies and milk because nobody is going to get us out of this but us.''

The remarks triggered angry calls to the Royals as well as to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, whose world headquarters is just across the highway from Kauffman Stadium.

Muser said he was merely trying to say the team needed a tougher, feistier attitude after getting off to a 10-18 start in a season in which many expected them to compete. He agreed he could have made his point in a less offensive way.

``I probably should have used cod liver oil instead of tequila,'' he said.

``There's nobody who prays harder than me, especially with two out in the ninth and with a lead. I'm from a very strict Catholic background. To those people that I may have offended, I apologize as a man.

``But God will always help those people who are trying desperately to help themselves. It's not politically correct if people took it the wrong way, but that's the way I meant it.''

Muser was angry at commentators and fans who interpreted his remarks as a slap at first baseman Mike Sweeney, a deeply religious man who had a team-record 144 RBIs last year but is also off to a slow start.

``It's the most ridiculous thing I think I've heard my whole life,'' Muser said.

``I have an 18-year-old daughter who is very precious to me. And there is only one guy that I would feel comfortable for her to marry, and that is Michael Sweeney.

``And to pick up a newspaper and have somebody try to pit a player against a manager is ridiculous. Nobody loves Michael Sweeney more than I do.''

Muser was supported by Sweeney as well as general manager Allard Baird.

``Tony Muser is not going to bash anybody's religion,'' Baird said. ``He's not going to tell anybody to go out there and get intoxicated.

``Now, the choice of using the word tequila, he'd be the first one to tell you he should not have said that. And I would agree.''

Sweeney said tough talk from the manager was needed.

``I truly feel the statements Tony made were in no way intended to be malicious toward guys like me because of my Christian faith,'' Sweeney said. ``He was just trying to jump-start our team as a whole. I think it was warranted and needed.''