Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 1.10.44 PMSource: Adweek

Rob Manfred’s reign as the 10th commissioner of Major League Baseball will begin in earnest Sunday night with the first pitch of the regular season. The 56-year-old former lawyer, who has worked for the league about half his life, is putting “pace of play”—or speeding up games so they average less than three hours in an era of fast-moving digital consumption—near the forefront of his agenda.

What does this mean for big-spending MLB sponsors like Budweiser, General Motors and Pepsi? Ultimately, that Manfred and his team are after the same idea as they are, aiming for better engagement with smartphone-toting fans who will waste little time before moving on to another interactive option.

Adweek chatted with the new commish about marketing-related topics: hiring the league’s first Hispanic agency of record in LatinWorks; the perception that baseball has faded from national prominence; and what digital consumerism means to the future of hardball. In addition, while Manfred didn’t explicitly say so, the fact that MLB’s executive leader is now calling New York City home—as opposed to Milwaukee, the base of outgoing commissioner Bud Selig—should bode well for the game’s relationship with Madison Avenue.

Adweek: Is MLB, under your stewardship this season, taking a different marketing approach to create more viewers and sell more tickets?
Rob Manfred: We made a bunch of changes actually. We hired two new agencies, Anomaly, and then LatinWorks, which is [running our most comprehensive] Hispanic-focused marketing effort.

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