KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie wore his familiar home jersey into the Kauffman Stadium interview room Wednesday and promptly apologized for what he had worn just 12 hours earlier.
After the Royals had beaten the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 to take a 3-0 lead in their AL Championship Series, Guthrie showed up to his postgame news conference wearing a T-shirt that a fan had sent him that read, "These O's Ain't Royal."
The phrase is a twist on a lyric in the Chris Brown song, "Loyal."
The shirt touched off criticism of Guthrie, who spent five years with Baltimore. Along with offending many Orioles fans, the shirt also ignited controversy because of the vulgar and derogatory nature of the song's original lyrics.
"I've already apologized to a number of people because there's no intention to offend. If you know me, I'm not a person that likes confrontation," Guthrie said. "This shirt was sent to me, and it will be sent to the garbage, because that's probably where it belongs."
Guthrie said he was aware of Brown's hip-hop song, and that he'd probably heard it about three times. But he said he wasn't aware of the reaction it might generate.
He spent Wednesday morning sending out text messages to friends who still play for the Orioles and took to Twitter to apologize to their fan base.
"He sent me a text apologizing this morning," said Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman, a former teammate. "I haven't had a chance to text him back yet."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter wasn't aware of the furor, though a question did touch of an entertaining exchange. When told Guthrie had worn a shirt riffing on a lyric from a Chris Brown song, he replied: "Chris Brown is weighing in on the Royals and the O's in a song?"
"What's the original line?" Showalter asked.
At that point, a spokesperson for Major League Baseball pointed out that Showalter's pregame news conference was being televised live, and it would be better not to fill him in.
Showalter later acknowledged he had a few — ah, rather sensitive — shirts in his own wardrode, though he also said he doesn't wear them where folks will take notice.
"I might offend somebody," he said.
One of the subplots to the ALCS since it returned to Kansas City for Game 3 has been the bravado of the young Royals, who had yet to lose in seven post-season games. Outfielder Jarrod Dyson brashly predicted the series would not return to Baltimore, and that if the Royals won Game 3 on Tuesday night, many of the Orioles would already feel defeated.
Kansas City won 2-1, taking a 3-0 lead in the series.
"It's not bragging if you can back it up," Showalter said. "Regardless of what happens in the series, it won't be because somebody wants it more than the other. It won't be because of what somebody didn't do. It would be because of what somebody did."