Jon Papelbon jumped headfirst into the Red Sox – Yankee rivalry earlier this spring, calling for Hank Steinbrenner to “stick to pencil-pushing.”

Steinbrenner responded in 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.”

Please. So what does the mature, professional Hank do? Throws back a personal attack of his own:

“Being insulted by Papelbon is like being attacked by a mouse.”

So, once again, it’s on. And I’ll take the mouse in the ninth every day.