Mattingly had been to the playoffs just once in his illustrious 14-year career. He hit .417 with a 1.180 slugging percentage in a five-game first-round loss to the Seattle Mariners that last year. He'd crushed it. The Yankees still lost.
So yeah, in a way it killed him that he'd retired just one year before the Yankees went all the way. But retirement had been a choice, not a sacrifice. And it was a choice he could live with as well then as he does now.
"That was an easy decision," Mattingly said. "The [Yankees] wanted me to sign for another two or three years, and if I did that, Taylor [his oldest] was going to be in high school, Preston was going to be right there. And I knew they weren't going to know me."
The first time Mattingly told me this story back in spring 2011, he teared up. The emotion was as real and raw as the day he walked away from the game. He was man enough not to fight it.
"I couldn't do it," he said. "I couldn't live my life with them not knowing me."
Shelburne's been tearing it up on the Dodger beat (check out her profile on A.J. Ellis). Can't wait to see who her next subject is.