Don Mattingly was closer to getting fired than we realized

USA TODAY Sports

On much more solid footing with a then-six-game lead in the National League West, Mattingly on Tuesday opened up about nearly becoming an ex-manager in late May.

The Dodgers suffered a rare loss on Tuesday night, just their third loss in 18 games since the All-Star break and their eighth loss in the last 40 games. But back in May, when the Dodgers were struggling and near rock bottom, with the losses coming at a far more frequent pace, manager Don Mattingly confirmed on Tuesday that he was indeed on the hot seat earlier in the year.

You remember that week on the road, right?

The Dodgers were swept by the Braves in Atlanta, with each loss a blown late lead. Some idiot writer said the Dodgers' season was over. Ken Rosenthal speculated at Fox Sports that Mattingly was a dead man walking, that it was just a matter of time before the manager was fired.

Mattingly, backed into a corner, called out the team's effort and simultaneously benched Andre Ethier. A few days later Mattingly removed Matt Kemp in a double switch, a "baseball move" that simply hadn't been done since Kemp became Matt Kemp. Mattingly got public support at the time from both team president Stan Kasten and general manager Ned Colletti.

The Dodgers, with an infusion of Yasiel Puig and a healthy Hanley Ramirez, have remarkably turned things around. But as Mattingly noted Tuesday in St. Louis, he was pretty close to losing his job back in May.

"Stan was really honest. He didn't want to do anything but he said, 'Donnie, at some point I got to do something,' " Mattingly said. "I understood it. I was fine with that. I understand. At some point you need a change of voice, a different voice," Mattingly said Tuesday, per Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles. "If they're not listening and it's not going good, you got to be make a change just to make a change. You could be doing the best job you could possibly do and it wouldn't make a difference. I get it. I got that."

Mattingly is in the final season of his three-year deal as manager, and has an option for 2014 that hasn't yet been exercised.

"It wasn't that much fun," Mattingly said, per Chad Thornburg of MLB.com. "You take it personal that you're team is not doing well and you understand the business, but I didn't really take it personal with any of the writers or anybody else because that's just a job that you had to do. I understand that's the way the game is. When the team doesn't play well, the manager usually gets it. And when a team is going good, [players] are playing great. It is true, honestly, the way it is."

Retaining Mattingly has rightfully kept the focus on the field for the Dodgers, as their healthier and resurgent offense coupled with a rock solid pitching staff have fueled this historic run. No Los Angeles Dodgers team has had a 40-game stretch as good as the current 32-8 streak, even including Tuesday's loss.

The winning has come without a new voice, without a change simply for change's sake. For the Dodgers, patience has been a virtue.

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