04/29/2002 11:53 pm ET
Muser remains a Royal at heart
Bullpen coach Mizerock named interim manager
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Tony Muser, who hasn't been home in 34 summers, knows how he's going to spend his mornings in May at his southern California residence.
"I'll get up, fix coffee, get the newspaper and the first thing I'll look at is the Kansas City box score," Muser said.
In his place will step bullpen coach John Mizerock, who is in his 11th season with the Royals. In nine seasons as a minor league manager at various levels in the organization, he put together a 646-554 record. Mizerock, 41, was a catcher for parts of four Major League seasons, three with Houston and one with Atlanta.
Muser, who got the news he had been fired as the Kansas City manager late Monday night, remains a Royal at heart.
"I have no animosity, no bad feelings about anybody," Muser said Tuesday morning as he sat in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton. "I think it's for the better of the organization. I understand it. I don't agree with it, but I understand it. I respect the decision, always will."
Muser, 54, compiled a 317-431 record in four full seasons and parts of two others. He never came close to having a winning record. Despite a close personal relationship with General Manager Allard Baird, Muser's tenure ended because he simply didn't win enough games.
Baird was prepared to tell Muser of the dismissal late Monday night when Muser returned to his hotel room following Kansas City's 4-0 win over the Tigers. But the news leaked out before Baird could contact Muser for a meeting.
"I came back and was sitting around with some friends and coaches," Muser said. "The media came up to me and told me it was on the 10 o'clock news back in Kansas City. I went upstairs and Allard gave me the news."
Muser has been the lightning rod for fan and media criticism, with Kansas City losing 11 of 14 at one stretch in April. Is there a sense of relief now that's it's over?
"It got tough, there's no question about it," Muser said. "Once something gets started, it's hard to stop it. I kind of got the sense that whatever we did good as a team or how we played in any particular victory ... there was no pat on the back. It was so negative all the time. When you get yourself in a situation like that, the organization has no choice but to do this."
Until his last day on the job, Muser showed dogged determination to turn the club around. Although he knew his job status was tenuous, it was business as usual Monday, with Muser talking at length about how he planned to bring players back from injuries.
"That's the kind of person I am," Muser said. "It became difficult, but I had the support of Allard and the Glass family. I don't think I could have survived it without them."
Muser never had closer Roberto Hernandez or outfielder Mark Quinn this season. There was a spate of injuries to other key players and disappointments within the pitching staff. The starting rotation has been in flux since the start of Spring Training.
"It's obvious the pitching has to get better and more consistent," Muser said. "You have to pitch to stay competitive in baseball. That has been very spotty."
Muser said he wants to stay in baseball and will let the industry decide his value.
"We didn't win," Muser said. "That's the bottom line. I don't blame anybody but myself. But I'll move on. I've always been a big believer that things happen for the best. I'd like to continue. We'll see how I'm evaluated by the rest of the industry after the smoke clears. We'll see who's interested, who's not "
Muser, who became the fourth manager fired this April, said an emotional Baird apologized for not giving him better talent.
"He apologized for not giving me more to work with," Muser said. "I said 'that's not necessary. Basically, I failed you. You didn't fail me.'"
Muser planned to head back to Kansas City Tuesday and then fly home to California on Wednesday. He wishes Mizerock well and has no ill feeling toward those who called loudly for his firing.
"There were a couple of times I think it got personal, where it kind of upset my family," Muser said. "But I understand that. I understand radio. I understand television. I understand ratings. For the most part, the media has treated me as a professional. The relationships I've had with the players and the people around the Royals has been special. This has been a great experience and I'll always pull for the Royals. Always."
Robert Falkoff covers the Royals for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Managerial changes in 2002
Joe Kerrigan, Boston
Phil Garner, Detroit
Davey Lopes, Milwaukee
Buddy Bell, Colorado
Tony Muser, Kansas City
Managerial changes in 2001
Felipe Alou, Montreal
John Boles, Florida
Larry Dierker, Houston
Larry Rothschild, Tampa Bay
Johnny Oates, Texas
Jimy Williams, Boston
Managerial changes in 2000
Terry Francona, Philadelphia
Jim Fregosi, Toronto
Davey Johnson, Los Angeles
Gene Lamont, Pittsburgh
Jack McKeon, Cincinnati
Buck Showalter, Arizona