to followup, i found out some more info that 07 STi owners will want to know... and this applies to 07 STi's specifically (possibly 08+ but i dont know yet...).
the atmospheric pressure sensor is integrated into the valve for the air pump, so removing it will cause an error in the way the car reads atmospheric pressure and as a result it will cause an error in the way it reads manifold relative pressure as well, throwing things off across the board.
my logs were only showing 11 psi max (manifold pressure) because by removing the atmospheric presusre sensor which is in the air pump valve, it was throwing an error and defaulting to 21.76 psi instead of 14.7 psi.
so... solution was to replace just the valve itself. i kept the blockoff plate on the head, i did not reinstall the air pump itself, just the valve unit using the black bracket that it came with to secure it in teh engine bay. once that was bolted down i plugged in the connector clearly shown in the photo and now all is well... atmospheric pressure works properly and as a result manifold pressure works as well.
silver unit pictured below is the valve, black connector on the top is the wiring. both were reinstalled. the atmospheric pressure sensor is integrated into this one way or another. black hose coming off the left was not reinstalled, and hardline that leads to the head was also not reinstalled.