(pic swiped from Boston Dirt Dogs)

“He needs to just stick to pencil-pushing,” opined reliever Jonathan Papelbon (above) of the Yankees’ Boston-baiting Hank Steinbrenner, a remark that didn’t go unanswered by The Boss Jr. From the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan :

“Being insulted by Papelbon is like being attacked by a mouse,” Steinbrenner told The Post.

“John Henry and I traded a couple of jabs good-naturedly,” he added. “So now, all of a sudden, this player, this 20-something kid who really doesn’t know his way in the world, comes out with a personal insult. There’s no excuse for that.”

When was the last time you saw Derek Jeter criticize an owner? Steinbrenner did add that Papelbon “is one great pitcher.” And he’d love to have him on his team.

“It was nothing personal against John [Henry], nothing personal against Larry [Lucchino], nothing personal against [Terry] Francona, nothing personal against the team or the fans,” Steinbrenner said. “It was just a general comment that is the truth. I respect the Red Sox and their fans, but the Yankees are the most popular team in American sports. Ask Jerry Jones in Dallas, he’ll tell you that. That’s why they want to do business with us. So it’s just a fact.”

Interesting question about Jeter, Kev. When was the last time you saw a franchise taken over by a person with a limited resume whose egomania ran as rampant as Yammering Hank’s? Other than the Knicks, I mean.

(UPDATE : apparently, taking out sure thing Hall Of Famer Francisco Cavelli constitutes “going after our stars”)