KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Billy Martin and Kansas City pitcher Larry Gura say the animosity between them is over. But it would appear the long-standing feud is finished for different reasons.
'The feud with the Yankees is over because Billy is gone. He never thought I had major-league stuff,' Gura said after whipping the Yankees 7-2 Wednesday in the first game of the American League Playoffs.
However, Martin says there never was bad blood between the two and whatever once separated them is over.
'I've never had a personal dislike for Larry Gura,' Martin said. 'I had a choice as a manager of pitching him or Catfish Hunter. I chose Hunter. Right now I'm very happy for Larry.'
Gura turned in a 10-hit performance on the way to his first complete playoff game in five tries. It was the fourth time Gura has won against the Yankees this year and the victory raised his lifetime record against New York to 5-1.
Gura was a Yankee when Martin took over as manager of the club in 1975. In 1976, Martin traded Gura to Kansas City and later said of Gura's pitching capabilities, 'you can't make chicken salad out of chicken feathers.'
However, in his commentary for national television on Wednesday's game, Martin described Gura's performance as 'a great job. He threw like he is capable of doing.'
Despite the fact that Martin repeatedly heckled Gura whenever he took the mound against the Yankees, Martin said the discontent between them was hyped by the press. He denied ever making the chicken-salad quote.
'That's something that got a lot of play in the press,' Martin said. 'I never said that.'
Martin said Gura obviously was struggling in the early stages of the game when he gave up two second-inning home runs. But Gura drew praise from the outspoken manager for his late-inning performance.
'I said Gura had to win the first one for the Royals to keep them in it,' Martin said. 'He got his control back later and threw strikes.'
Martin predicted the Yankees would bounce back in the second game of the series today, making the playoff winner anyone's guess as action moves to New York.