The umpires struck back and Billy Martin says now "it's war."

Martin was back in the New York Yankees' dugout Monday night following a three-game suspension and was under the threat of ejection by the umpires had he come out to argue.Martin was assessed the suspension and fined $1,000 last week by American League President Bobby Brown for kicking, then throwing dirt at rookie umpire Dale Scott on May 30 in Oakland.

On Friday, umpires' association general counsel Richie Phillips held a conference call with the crew chiefs and the umpires threatened to eject the fiery Yankees' manager if he stepped out of the dugout to argue a call.

Martin had coach Chris Chambliss bring out the lineup card for the Yankees' game against Boston and then was quiet for nine innings as his team lost.

After the game, Martin announced to the media mob that he would no longer remain silent and he would no longer remain cooped up in the dugout.

"I gave my word to somebody I wouldn't go out," Martin said, "and my word is my bond just as my word is I will file a lawsuit against Richie Phillips and the umpires' association.

"It's a war, but it's a good thing there are no dead bodies. There will be some dead egos though," he said.

Martin said he will be back to his aggressive, and often controversial ways, tonight.

"I'll be out on the field all day," Martin promised. "Every time I want to go out I will go out on the field and I will argue and do everything a manager is supposed to do, and I defy Richie Phillips to stop me.

"The first amendment allows for freedom of speech. In Russia you can gag somebody, but I won't be gagged. Mr. (ichie) Phillips is a lawyer and should know better," Martin said.

On learning of the threatened legal action, Phillips said, "Billy is Billy. There's been some talk, some threat of filing a lawsuit, but it doesn't particularly concern me. It may be just a threat or Billy may file a lawsuit that isn't meritorious."

Martin had said before the game he would no longer kick dirt on umpires. But that act of contrition did not satisfy Phillips.

Phillips, after meeting with Brown during the game, restated the position that Martin would still be "treated differently" than other major league managers.