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Ted Green: Was Manny's ejection a result of his suspension?

July 9, 2009 |  9:49 am

Manny1 Funny/weird/curious ejection of Manny on Tuesday in New York.

Now, I'm seriously wondering if the umpire wasn't sending a bigger message about steroids and those in baseball who've been busted for using.

Did you see it?

Manny was tossed for arguing a called third strike in the fifth inning.

The pitch was at least 4 inches outside, according to multiple instant replays. Maybe 6 inches off the plate.

Home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck, a 25-year big-league veteran, also punched Manny out in the first inning on a more borderline pitch. Replays showed that one was outside by maybe 2 inches.

On the second one, Manny was not emotional at all, but he did toss his protective elbow pad toward home plate, in Hirschbeck's direction, and that's when the ump ran him, ending his 2-for-4 night with 3 RBIs.

Now there could be a history between those two; that's certainly a possibility. But Hirschbeck has been calling balls and strikes since 1984, and he knows the difference. He can recognize pitches in his sleep.

So my other theory, entirely feasible too, is that Hirschbeck was sending his own Dear John letter to Manny that goes like this:

Dear Manny: You used PED's and you got caught. You cheated. You hurt the game I've worked hard in for a quarter century, the game I truly love. So when it comes to calls, behind the dish or on the bases, don't expect to get squat from me. Count on me sticking it to you whenever I can. For you, senor, home plate is now as wide as the Rio Grande. Deal with it.

And so, because it's part of the game, and player-umpire relationships have lives of their own, Manny will deal with it because he has no choice.

But I wonder how many other umps might have similar feelings toward the steroid crowd? Or am I reading too much into it?

-- Ted Green

Green formerly covered sports for the L.A. Times. He is currently senior sports producer for KTLA Prime News.

Photo: Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez argues with home plate umpire John Hirschbeck before being ejected in the Dodgers' 8-0 victory over the New York Mets on Tuesday.