Don Mattingly conjured memories of Clint Hurdle last week.

The embattled Dodgers manager, his underachieving team a daily disappointment, criticized his team's lack of fight. Of course, there was a Diamondbacks-Kirk Gibson joke in there somewhere, but no one in Los Angeles was laughing.

This Dodgers team was built with Ricky Schroder's silver spoons, not duct tape, bent nails and rolled-up sleeves.

"Part of it is the mixture of competitiveness. It's not just putting an all-star team out there and the all-star team wins. You try to find that balance of a team that's got a little grit and fight, and has enough talent to get there also," Mattingly told Los Angeles reporters. "It's not all grit and no talent that gets there, and it's not all talent and no grit. It's a mixture of both."

What the Dodgers have is a Molotov cocktail. Let's put it this way: When the new ownership group signed off on the biggest payroll in history, they weren't planning on Nick Punto becoming the best story.

Which brings me back to Hurdle. It was May 2009. The Rockies, less than two years removed from their only World Series berth, were spiraling downward, continuing the narrative from an awful 2008 season.

Hurdle had vowed to exercise more authority. Rules were put in place. One specifically called for a hitter to take a strike if the hitter in front of him had walked on four pitches. Troy Tulo- witzki broke the rule in Atlanta, getting out on a first pitch. He was benched the next game. It went over in the clubhouse like a stink bomb.

Hurdle lasted another a week before getting fired. He was the right man for 2007, and unlike many in his position, has become a better manager in his second stop, pushing the Pirates toward their first winning season since 1992.

The point with Mattingly is that he's trying to reinvent himself midway through the experiment. It's admirable, but players see through it. Mattingly's comments were initially construed as a shot at management. I never took it that way. He's not the type to try to get himself canned.