A commenter on the Roger Clemens post, expecting to duck as he announced it, mentioned he is a Yankee fan. Traditionally, that is supposed to be a declaration of rivalry nigh on to enmity. It mildly surprised me that I felt no welling of annoyance. On reflection, I have felt no welling of annoyance over Yankee fans for some time.
Growing up, Yankee fans were the only other baseball fans you might run into around here. We would meet them at summer camp - guys from Connecticut who seemingly had betrayed New England by being New York centered in their affections. A fair number from NY and NJ would come up to lake vacation or ski in NH as well. We would see their bumper stickers and hats. The team histories contributed to the rivalry, but kids are only dimly aware of such things. Being educated in the tribal lore of Red Sox Nation came later. We rooted for our team because it was ours. We never met any Orioles of Phillies fans. All our focus was on New York.
Going to college in the south, I went prepared to express tolerance for all sorts of cultural diversity: Braves fans, Dodgers fans, Pirates fans, and even (swallow) Yankee fans. But with that last category it was forced politeness.
Things are different now. We have teams from all over the country to be annoyed with, and I think that waters it down. There is more national broadcast, and people have moved to and from here in great numbers. I have a son dating a Yankee fan, and one can hardly blame her: her father got a spring training look with them as a pitcher in the 80's. Baseball is a tradition-based sport, and I think there will always be some residual preference for Yankee-bashing, but it's not what it was.
For me, the high-water mark for Yankee hatred was 1978. Tom Boswell declared that one-game playoff between the Sox and the Yanks as the greatest game in baseball history, not only for its internal drama, but for what it meant in the context of its season, the history of the two teams, and the history of baseball. If Peter Gammons is correct in his Beyond The Sixth Game, baseball changed because of free agency in the late 70's and has been a different sport since (though the game itself remains the same). For Red Sox fans that is certainly true, as the legend of the just-missing Boston teams took off in those years. Then in the early 80's we let Carlton Fisk get away, there was a strike shortened season - you could make an argument that the 1978 game was the last game of Old Baseball. The moving, broadcasting, and free agency brought in New Baseball.
I knew something had changed forever in the 1990's when I felt sorry for Bucky Bleeping Dent because Steinbrenner was being such a jerk, and I wasn't the only Boston fan who said that. For us to have sympathy for Dent, to root for his side in a dispute? The world had moved. There have been spikes in Yankee hatred in RSN, when Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs went there, or in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. But it's not the same, and I'm not sure I miss the old days that much.