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Journalists are not fans

Not now, not yesterday, and not ever.

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There's a saying that the most intentionally-boring part of a website is probably the most important. And in all of the roster moves, video, and quotes on cincinnatireds.com is a zillion-line table called "Front Office." There's the familiar Eric Davis and Cam Bonifay, sure, but between the wonderfully-named scout Steve Roadcap and Promotional Events Manager Caylor Escalante reads one "Director of Media Relations": Rob Butcher.

In his lovely two-part interview with us, C. Trent Rosecrans made a point to mention how great Butcher is at his job: to manage media. Cf:

That doesn't mean we always agree, but it does mean that we are heard. There's a reason why they do things, and we may not always agree, but we have a great professional relationship. I can't say enough about that staff. Watch any World Series -- or other big event put on by Major League Baseball -- and you'll be sure to see Rob Butcher there. And there's a reason.

That reason is not that Butcher was once fired by the Steinbrenner Yankees for taking Christmas vacation. The reason is that Butcher is promoting a product (the Reds) to a market (us). Butcher, agonizingly, knows that we here at Red Reporter would be bad for the product if we got access. More agonizingly, our bosses at SBN agree. I can't fault him, because c'mon, do we look professional?, but I can see where he and where Rosecrans are coming from.

Butcher's job is to control the message and make sure the Reds look good. Rosecrans' job is to get the stories that Butcher isn't telling. Part of the reason the Reds hand out news like a Communist country (and not one of the cool ones like Yugoslavia but some real shot-if-you-own-a-radio ones like Romania) is that Butcher is good at his job. Part of the reason that Rosecrans has now found himself in the targeting line twice is that he is good at his job.

Rosecrans is a reporter, and his job is to report. His job is to tell you things about the Reds that the Reds don't want you to know. This is important, because everyone who makes those decisions on the Reds is making money off of you (and me!). They want to prove to us why taking our money is worth our time. It's something we've signed up for, or at least been auto-subscribed by MLB.tv, but still: baseball is extracting revenue from you and me. Rosecrans is one of only a handful of folks left who have a job that lets them splash any cold water on this multi-million dollar enterprise we call the Reds baseball club.

Or, how he put it:

What separates me from you? Honestly, access. And I know in some quarters it's cool not to have access, but I think it's pretty cool to be able to call people who know and get answers. Some don't, some won't tell you real answers, but for the most part, I do have that kind of access.

I also have a perspective of an outsider. I'm not a fan, I get paid whether the team wins or loses. I'm also at most of the games, six weeks of spring training and it's my job to watch/study/understand/learn about baseball. That's about the greatest job in the world, and trust me, I don't take that lightly.

So when he breaks news. That, say, the Reds have been playing with 24 guys for 10 days, including their biggest road trip of the season so far, he is doing his job. When he gets an exasperated rant from the manager (which, audio), he is doing his job. To be honest, as much as Price did flip his lid, he did so in the name of protecting his players. It's a much better rant than something along the lines of selling a 24-year-old out. He's there for his players, which ain't for nothing.

Rosecrans, though, is telling you more about the Reds than they themselves want you to know. You want to know more about the Reds. This is all well and good.

Just don't expect him to root for the Reds. You wouldn't expect a White House reporter to root for her favorite candidate, and you wouldn't want a business reporter to take the fall for a company he likes. Journalist is supposed to be a bit adversarial, especially when multi-million dollar businesses are involved. And the Reds are a multi-million dollar business. Don't play the sucker for Castellini. Check that "Front Office" list again, he's called an "investor," not "#1 fan." Don't play the sucker for Butcher, who is by all counts a very good guy who is very good at his job but is still someone whose job it is to protect the franchise, and only the manager or player when its good for business (which is, to be fair, most of the time).

Journalists aren't fans, they're professionals. So are coaches. We're the only unprofessional ones in this lot, and it'll save a lot of heartache to remember that.