There is nothing more exciting to me than newcomers to baseball. Having new fans in a sport when many people are starting to turn away shows that baseball truly is America's favorite pastime. Her introduction to baseball was not from growing up in Minnesota; she had never really watched it, period. Her boyfriend is from Canada and is a life-long Blue Jays fan. He would have the game on every time they played and even traveled to watch them in the playoffs in Kansas City in 2016. He did not miss a game, and consequently, neither did Rena.
At the beginning of our interview, she makes an accurate, bold statement, "As a new fan, the game is boring. You don't know what's going on, and you don't know the teams."
She is not wrong. So what made her change her mind? Like me, she started by watching the pitcher when I started watching. The pitcher is one of the unique players on the team. The game is centered around the pitcher and how they perform, so watching them can put many pieces together.
Over time, from watching the game with her boyfriend, she started to see little things that pitchers did, their delivery and mechanics. This led to her watching the other players, why each player is essential, how they play their position and how they interact.
Rena was so intrigued by what she was watching that she eventually her fandom moved from watching with her boyfriend, to having it on in the background, to watching games when she was by herself. The first time she turned on the TV to watch by herself and immerse herself in her new hobby, the catalyst to her love of baseball was the 2017 World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros.
She loved the excitement of the game, but her excitement came because she had no dog in the fight and could see the rigors of competition. Rena watched intently and learned who the players were and the strategies that they were using in the games to get an advantage over the other team. She figured out quickly by watching that they use certain players in the lineup based on their ability to hit singles, doubles, clean up, or even strikeout. There was a strategy to the game, and she loved that.
As frustrating as that was to hear that the 2017 Astros are what got her interested in the game, at least Minnesota and Twins baseball got something good out of that series, a new baseball fan. She went in full throttle with her newfound hobby and listened to the "Baseball Tonight" podcast. She would listen to the podcast and then watch a clip or game to soak in what they explained in the episode she had just heard.
As Rena began to understand what they were talking about, she took to Twitter, where she (and many of us) began to voice her thoughts and feelings about baseball in a segment called "Bleacher Tweets" through Baseball Tonight at the end of their show.
"Since it was a new hobby, I had many questions," Rena explains, "I wanted to know their perspective, and eventually, I befriended the host."
Because she was a new fan and stats were huge in the baseball community, the host appreciated the banter and questions she was bringing to the table. Even though she liked the stats and understood them, she was more a fan of the game and brought a fresh perspective to the host. They appreciated her perspective so much they brought her onto the podcast to talk about her insights on baseball. She stayed there for a year, and that's when Twins Daily noticed and came knocking on her twitter door. They noticed that she was from Minnesota and savvy in baseball; she also now was tweeting about the Twins.
Even though she loved baseball initially because of Bally Sports North (formerly FSN), she watched more Twins games, and her love and allegiance were solid with the Twins.
Because she is passionate about the game, she cares about the players. She wanted something and someone to root for. She is quick to defend her favorite players and loves to cheer for those who have moved on, like Eddie Rosario and Nelson Cruz. She is an Eddie Rosario stan and his biggest fan no matter where he goes.
Rena enjoyed the growth being on the podcast brought her. She also really loved the idea that the podcast host had a lot of diversity in his program; he had a lot of different perspectives, demographics, and women on the show. We discussed the tremendous growth of women in baseball. Rena wanted to bring a new face to content instead of the day-to-day stats and numbers. She likes to stray away from the norm, writing about what she would want to read or see. That stuck with me. As a baseball fan and writer, I struggle with the "norm" and write what I want to see, whether that is an op-ed or being Jake Cave's biggest fan. There is room for all fans, and plenty of talented writers have unique perspectives and voices.
Rena and I both write for Twins Daily. She is one of the reasons I was excited to contact Nick Nelson in a brave DM and ask him for an opportunity to write for them. I watched her tweets and articles over the past two seasons. She has a great tone in her writing and an insatiable knowledge of the game. She loves to write about the fun stuff, or as she calls it, the "fluff," and she does indeed write about the fun stuff.
During the lockout, Rena had a series called "Things Twins Players Did This Week," It was full of fun, cute tweets and pictures of the players and their families during the holidays or doing charitable work. We both love to get people to think outside the box and challenge people to see different angles of baseball when it comes to the game, players' lives, and the Twins organization.
I was shocked to find out that Rena does not work for Twins Daily all the time. Her knowledge of the game, the players, and the numbers would lead me to believe otherwise. She helps promote the website on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. She loves getting behind the promotion part of the job and bringing attention to Twins Daily.
One of the goals of Twins Daily social media is growing. Rena, along with the rest of the team, wants Twins Daily to be the go-to website for Minnesota Twins news. So how do they do that? By giving the collective a voice, promoting articles in a fun, exciting manner.
The social media team has indeed done that. Twins Daily has been successful with traffic and followers, a considerable concern we had during the lockout. It's hard to write about baseball when there is none, so brainstorming what to write is just as important on how to promote the writing. Rena loves to create a voice for Twitter because that's where the most activity is for Twins Daily followers and Twins fans. Creating content and discussion is one of the things that Rena is good at.
We discussed the journey through journalism as women and having a voice as baseball fans and writers. I told her that my biggest fear is being professional, and I am known for my loud voice and perspective on not always loving players and having to behave and respond with information and no profanity (!!). Being a fan opens you up for ridicule, but being a female baseball fan on social media carries its responsibility because ridicule can be far worse as women's knowledge of sports is held to a standard of knowing stats from 1983 and "name five players." She admits there are times when she is ready to send out a tweet and goes back and double-checks it because she knows that the scrutiny is more vigorous for females than it is for males in the industry.
As an Asian-American female, she is also very aware of representation. She and I had a heart-to-heart about her desire to hopefully bring more awareness to Asian-American women in sports and the players. One of her favorite players is Shohei Ohtani. She loves seeing the Asian representation in baseball and hopes it continues to grow. I loved her honesty with me about her strength in being a minority writer and fan in our favorite sport. While she knows sometimes she has to check her tweets twice, she also is confident in her understanding and knowledge of the intricacies of baseball.
She combines her love of baseball and her heritage in this astounding article where she interviewed Tzu-Wei Lin, who was an MVP at the age of 16 from Taiwan. She got a chance to speak in her native language of Mandarin, to one of her favorite ball players about their favorite game. The article is inspiring and she is proud of the opportunity she had to get to know Lin.
Rena makes me want to be a better writer, fan, and person. To know that there are women out there that love the game as much as I do is motivating. We can carry on a conversation about the game, and having a desire for the game to grow in representation (as well as fandom around the world) gives me hope that this game will never indeed die.
Rena is one of the strongest baseball minds I know. She is intelligent, funny, intuitive, and full of insight and ideas that bring Twins Daily new followers and readers. Rena is also one of my closest friends and will do anything for me at the drop of a hat. She is a force to be reckoned with if you go up against her in baseball knowledge, but she is compassionate and loving and genuinely wants everyone to love the sport that brings her happiness. She brings so much fun to Twins Daily, its followers, and Twitter; if you don't follow her, you are truly missing out.
Make sure to check out Rena's Twins Daily Page below!