"I was proud of what happened; we played hard to the end," says Mattingly, "and got as much out of the ability we had as we could get."
"Someone has to be blamed," he says. "If I want my players to show toughness, how would it look if I can't handle a little criticism?"
He's not much on a show of emotion, explaining his dad was a man of few words and folks have been known to tell him, "You're just like your dad."
But he'll also say he "loves" his players, hugging Tom Lasorda when he sees him and is so invested in winning it's "painful" when the Dodgers don't.
Mattingly has already been told he will be back, and as wacky as things have gone the past two years he probably has enough goodwill built up to buy even more time. But he wants none of it.
"I don't want to buy time," he says. "If they don't think I'm the guy, the Dodgers should let me go."
He makes it clear, "I want to be here," but as poorly as things have gone with the addition of high-priced talent, there's a hint of uncertainty in what he has to say.
"Why would you have this much talent and say, 'I don't know if this is the guy?'" he says. "Don't waste the year; if you don't know by now, you don't know."
But we really don't know, do we? We know he's a great guy and good things should happen to good people, but he arrives in New York the year after the Yankees win a World Series and leaves the year before they win another.
Every Yankee seemingly gets a World Series ring except Donnie Baseball.
"My whole thing is counting your blessings," he says. "I've been blessed by working with great people, blessed with two great parents and getting every opportunity to be successful."
But as good people go, he didn't get the dream job as Yankees manager.
"A blessing," he says. "It was the wrong time. I was going through a divorce with a lot of personal pain and then to deal with all that goes into being Yankee manager would be too much.
"I'm [married] to a great person and blessed again. That's the way I live. I believe good things will happen, and that's why I expect to win every day."
Checking the Dodgers' record, it doesn't always go his way. But is the manager at fault?
"If you don't have the horses you don't win," he says. "Now if you have the horses and can't get them to play, or they don't play hard for you, then it's on you."
So is this debacle on Mattingly?
"Since this last trade [with Boston] we've been really bad," says Mattingly. "But I wouldn't say this whole season has been a disappointment. We hung in there earlier, but since the trade we haven't put it together. I don't have the answer.
"I know our job as a staff is to provide the proper environment, prepare everyone and get everyone committed to a goal. But at some point the players have to perform."
I sure hope he mentioned that in Wednesday's meeting.