And when George Steinbrenner runs out of Yankee players with whom to squabble, he has a run-in by remote control with a former Yankee, NBC-TV baseball commentator Tony Kubek.

Seems the club owner absorbed some knocks from the pre-Steinbrenner-era Yank shortstop in an article that ran in the Fort Launderdale News while the team was in spring training. Came opening "Game of the Week," New York at Texas, and Kubek found himself prevented from doing any interviews with members of the world champions (Joe Garagiola ahd to do it himself).

Steinbrenner had made copies of the article and mailed them to major league owners with the postscript: "How's this for the mouth that bites the hand the feeds it?"

Kubek recalls that, in the newspaper piece, "I said the turmoil on the Yankees is not over, it's going to resurface. This should be a personal thing between George and me but he's trying to make it George against the network" . . .

The commissioner's office got Steinbrenner and Chet Simmons, NBC Sports president, together recently for lunch to make sure all parties recognize it is (was, says Steinbrenner - "It's all over now") only George versus Tony, and vice versa. "Everything is fine," says Simmons . . .

Things aren't bad enough in horse racing with the rash of rider spills, equine metritis, financial ills, ect.; today tak on (1) possibility that the "usual" spring outbreak of respiratory malady among horses at the Maryland tracks could include a newfangled virus and may get worse before it gets better; (2) theft of a pari-mutuel ticket printing machine from Keeneland at Lexington, Ky., giving rise to an old gubaboo, that the culprits may intend to print counterfeit Kentucky Derby tickets.

At Pimlico, veteran verterinarian James Stewart says the flu-type epizootic is the worst he's ever seen in the area. Dr. David L. Paice, chief vet for the state, summoned an expert from John Hopkins to come out today and take swabs of affected horses for analysis so, "We should know what we have in a few days." At Churchill Downs, they aren't too worried about counterfeiting, but authorities admit faking Derby tickets would be extremely difficult, in view of safeguards in the American Totalisator Co. system, but not impossible . . .

One positive, Trillion, a 4-year-old filly owned by Ed Stephen on of Warrenton, Va., made it through thunder and lightning to win $85,000 in the Grand Prix Gaanay at Longchamps on Sunday in France - possible local rooting interest should Trillion find its way to the International at Laurel. Metritis, stay away . . .

Going into last night's Nuggets-Bucks showdown in Denver, Coach Larry Brown was saying preplayoff announcement of David Thompson's record contract may have backfired. Put on pressure that has hurt D.T.'s performance, Brown suggested, after Thompson missed Tuesday practice feeling poorly physically and mentally . . . The Cleveland Cavlaiers don't have to worry about such things anymore this spring, so happily announced yesterday they have signed four-year Cav forward Campy Russell to a new long-term contract. He averaged 19.4 points a game this season despite nagging chest congestion - this week new Detroit Piston Coach Dick Vitale was coveting him at his hiring press conference . . .