Don Mattingly: L.A. lacked 'driving force'

DALLAS -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly conceded Tuesday that uncertainty surrounding the team's ownership contributed to the club's mediocre performance on the field. Frank McCourt agreed after the season to put the Dodgers up for sale, but the team spent most of the season in bankruptcy with McCourt vowing to preserve his ownership in a battle with Major League Baseball.

"I played in New York for Mr. (George) Steinbrenner, and you don't realize the driving force that ownership can be," Mattingly said. "Players just kind of play, and do what they do down on the field. But ownership is a driving force that says, 'We're going here, and this is our mission. You guys are entrusted to make that happen, but this is where we're going.'

"This year, it felt like Ned and I were trying to drive this thing. I know Mr. McCourt didn't want to be a distraction by being on the field and in the clubhouse. But I thought what we were missing was that driving force."

Mattingly quickly qualified his remarks by saying the McCourt situation wasn't the reason the Dodgers failed to make the playoffs and barely finished above .500 at 82-79.

"It's just nonsense to make any excuses," Mattingly said. "If we failed to back up a base, was that because of ownership? During that period of time that we are on the field, it is the players' job to play baseball and to win the game that night."

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.