Frank McCourt’s donation to L.A. police is to protect (his tarnished image) and to (self) serve

I’m skeptical, and the McCourts have only themselves to blame for that after what we have learned about them the last few months.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt donated 40,000 tickets to L.A. police officers, and “people were really touched by him reaching out … and showing his appreciation,” Paul Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, told The Times in a Saturday story.

But I wonder, was it an act of generosity, or are the city’s police officers being used — once again McCourt getting something for nothing?

The tickets given are for a time of year when students are in school and if the Dodgers are out of it, it will be marketing genius to get anyone to show up to the stadium.

On top of great public relations gained already in exchange for seats that will probably be empty, he fills them with civil servants who will still have to pay for parking and who will undoubtedly fill up on concessions.

Like the dogs attracted to the park last week who count toward attendance figures, the Dodgers take great pride in the final count of tickets distributed — 40,000 more a boon.

The price of a ticket is a nice savings for officers, but if McCourt was really showing his appreciation, he’d have included free parking, hot dogs and sodas.

The simple, disturbing fact here is McCourt turns a profit, and it costs him nothing to appear charitable.

It might be considered McCourt bashing, but can we ever trust him again after what we’ve come to know about the way the McCourts did business?

“This is certainly one of the largest charitable donations made to a single organization by the Dodgers in recent memory,” Josh Rawitch, Dodgers’ PR guy, told The Times.

But other than the price of paper the tickets are printed on, are they worth anything if they go unsold?

The only way this costs McCourt is if the Dodgers continue this hot streak, make the end of the season relevant and folks want to buy tickets.

Wouldn’t it be funny to learn later, and how much have we already learned later, that McCourt was betting on that not happening. And it does.

THREE TEAMS reportedly put in claims for Manny Ramirez, the Chicago White Sox winning, but now the Dodgers aren’t sure they want him to go — yet choose not to play him.

Are they just better with Scott Podsednik in left and batting leadoff rather than playing Manny — Manny refusing to agree to a trade and therefore benched?

If true, how’s that for Manny’s plunging stock in L.A.?

By the way, don’t get too attached to Podsednik, who has the option of becoming a free agent and selling his services to the highest bidder.

Manny, meanwhile, did not start in three straight games, something fishy going on, the assumption a trade is being worked out while the Dodgers keep Manny healthy. Tougher to do these days without the female fertility drugs.

GM Ned Colletti said he won’t deal Ramirez while in contention, but he wins both ways by not playing Ramirez. The Dodgers lose, and he sends him packing. They win and he sends him packing because the players proved they could win without him.

That would suggest Manny’s a goner no matter what the Dodgers say unless Chicago loses interest and falls too far back of Minnesota.

After all, how much can a guy who can no longer start for the Dodgers help a team in playoff contention?

IT ISN’T exactly a home for Reggie Bush’s parents. But Paul Weller e-mailed to ask, “Prince’s dad is Norm Chow’s dentist. But I hear Brehaut is a better quarterback. Will you do a story on this?”

I’ve got a feeling wins mean more than clean teeth to Chow, but I checked.

“Norm has seen Steve Prince on occasion because the dentist’s office is near campus,” said a UCLA spokesman. “Norm says he pays for whatever insurance doesn’t cover.”

Forgot to ask if the dentist is what convinced Chow not to return to USC when Lane Kiffin called.

THE SIMERS Football League draft is today, Miss Radio Personality assuming the role of SFL commissioner, which now makes her a prize catch.

As a result, someone will be given the chance to take her to the Lakers season opener and ring ceremony (hint hint) in late October, contest details to be announced shortly.

A man with a history of driving drunk hit three teenagers, including 15-year-old Myles Polger, on a La Jolla city sidewalk a few weeks back.

Rick Barton, a friend of the Polger family, knew the youngster was a huge Bruins fan, so he contacted UCLA in the hopes of lifting Myles’ spirits with maybe an autographed basketball or football.

Barton was told the kid was still at an age where he might be recruited, so it would be considered an NCAA violation.

Barton kept at it, tracked down Bill Walton’s e-mail address, and 10 minutes later Walton responded with an offer to help.

Walton was in Chicago but offered to drive from the airport to the hospital upon his return, unfortunately his arrival time coinciding with a fourth surgery on Myles’ damaged leg.

“The family was blown away by Bill’s willingness to help,” wrote Barton. “His father was really choked up.”

Myles is home now, his leg in a full cast, which is great news because there was some fear he might lose the leg.

Walton is back on the road, but remains in touch and willing to help, Barton said, while passing on word from Myles’ parents.

“They want everyone to know, it’s just another reminder of why we need to kiss our kids every day.”