by Victor Lee
What is a man of faith like Kevin Malone doing in the deal-making business of
running the Dodgers? Plenty.
Last year media-mogul Rupert Murdoch purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers
for a record-breaking, mind-boggling, market-rattling price of approximately $350 million.
A few months later he turned over the baseball operations to Kevin Malone, a 41-year-old
To Murdoch, the fact that Malone is a follower of Jesus Christ was
probably unimportant. To Malone, it is at the core of his being and is related to his
That shows me the sovereignty of God, Kevin says.
That shows me who is in control, and that God has a plan for each of our lives.
Every day that I wake up and realize that I am executive vice-president and general
manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, then I think God is gracious and loving. That this
middle-class boy from the wrong side of the tracks in Kentucky can be in this role
just humbles me and makes me feel thankful.
Day In and Day Out
Life borders on the frantic for Malone, but his stabilizer is Christ. A
normal day? There arent any. There are always new challenges, new problems, more
agents, more media. The routine is far from routine. It changes with each season.
Theres the off-season, which isnt off at all. Who to
who to let go. Who to offer arbitration to, who not to. What free agents to
pursue (and how much to pay). What trades to make. Coaches to hire and fire from the major
leagues down through the rookie leagues.
Spring training brings another set of challenges, then comes the
season, with different routines for road trips and home stands. It is long
hours, Malone says. I usually start between 6 or 7 a.m. with prayer and time
in the Word. I get ready spiritually, then I get ready physically. During the school year,
I take my kids to school, and the work day begins about 8:30.
A phone is constantly in one ear, whether in the car or in
Malones Dodger Stadium office. Malone goes home sometime between 6 and 7:30 p.m. in
the off-season. The earlier Im home, the more time I have with the
family, he says. Up until the kids bedtime, about 8:30, Im with
them. I pray with them, and then from around 9 until midnight Im working on the
phone. Its pretty much every waking moment except for the time I try to give my
Ive got to be available to so many people, give advice,
make decisions on a lot of different things, its all-encompassing.
The categories of Malones job can loosely be broken down into
dealing with agents, personnel decisions, administration, and dealing with the media. The
overarching challenge is to maintain his close walk with Christ, which includes
maintaining a check on the egosomething easy for any person to lose control of in
light of the status afforded a major league GM.
You know whatits all about attitude, and thats
one thing we can control, Kevin says of his day-to-day challenges. Instead of
looking at self, its looking outward and being selfless. Then you really recognize
the wonder and the majesty and the grace of God.
Dealing With Agents
The agents want Malone to pay more. Malone wants to pay less. The
Dodgers can afford to pay more than most teams, so Malone is very popular. How much to pay
whom is the delicate question, and the agents are always the medium for the answer.
Agents are business people, the legal and business
representatives of the player, Malone says. Ive gotten to know most of
them, and most of them, I respect. A few I dont, because of their ethics and moral
values professionally. But on the whole, most of them are good, solid people. When
youre dealing in moneybecause of the enormous amounts of money these players
are making nowthere is a negative connotation. And in some instances it is all
motivated by greed. But a lot of these guys are quality men who are just doing their
The sticking point is always money, and the determining factors are
market value (supply and demand) and talent evaluation. I think most of the agents
know my forte is player evaluation, Malone says. Im a former player,
coach, and scout. I think there is a respect factor I get there. Ask them what
theyre dealing with in Kevin Malone, and I think most of the time theyll tell
you that I tell them the truth. They know its business. You try to keep it from
being personal. The problems come when you disagree on a players value.
Dealing With Media
Malone is popular with the media because he is easy to reach and speaks
freely and intelligently.
I do that for three reasons: one, for the fans, he says.
I think the fans have a right to know as much about the team as possible. Two,
because the members of the media have a job to do, and they are part of the game. They are
promoting the game. Three, I want to be an example of the love of God. I want to show
these guys that Im here to help them, and I want them to know Im different
because of Jesus Christ.
So I think nurturing and developing relationships is important. I
think we should help them be the best they can be, and the more accurate information they
have, the better theyll be.
I cant tell them everything, and I cant always tell
them at the time they want to, but I do as much as I can.
Sometimes he gets burned by a media representative. You give them
the benefit of the doubt until you learn you cant trust them, he says,
Its like any other relationship, you eventually learn enough about them to
know what you can and cant do. I have to use discernment, and I seek Gods help
for that discernment.
This is Malones strength. And it isnt as easy as it looks.
Its not rotisserie baseball, Kevin says. You
use statistics; thats part of the equation, but its just one piece of the
puzzle. You cant find chemistry in statistics books.
When considering signing or trading for a player, Malone suggests
several key elements that have nothing to do with talent.
What are the players goals? What is his make-up? How will
he fit in the clubhouse? In the community? All of these things are important. Ultimately,
you ask yourself, What are you willing to pay for the production he brings?
Its complex, and its not a scientific equation. I rely on knowledge, skills,
and instinctand I pray for discernment.
Malone also relies on scouts, coaches, and his managers advice.
For instance, when Malone hired Davey Johnson as manager, it meant outfielder-third
baseman Bobby Bonilla had to be traded. The chemistry between the two was acidic, and
Bonilla was considered a questionable influence in the clubhouse. So Malone dealt Bonilla
to the Mets.
Running The Show
Malone doesnt make baseball decisions onlyhe oversees a
large organization. Managing people is a different challenge than evaluating talent.
Malone feels better equipped to evaluate, but up to the challenge of managing.
I think the GM job is a very different job because of the
diversity that is needed to be successful, he says, A major part is
relationships. I think Ive improved in that area over the years because of my
relationship with God. Ive become a better listener. I have more compassion.
Im here to develop a winning organization through
developing winning people. I try to delegate responsiblities, and I try to help people be
the best they can be. Because of what Christ has done in my life, and because of what
Christ has done in my life, and because of the time I spend in prayer and in the Word, I
believe I have the ability to discern the needs of people, the direction they need, the
advice I should give, and all the things related to leading them.
I wouldnt ask anyone in the organization to do anything I
wouldnt do, or that I havent done. I must recognize that Im not any more
important then any other part of this organization.
In the midst of all of those challenges, the greatest battle is to
maintain a consistent fellowship with Jesus Christ. That is, to daily live as Christ would
have Kevin live, seeking His wisdom and comfort constantly. No one does it perfectly, and
Malone doesnt dare suggest that he does. But He does have a plan.
Theres only one right way to start the day, and thats
in fellowship with Him, Kevin says. I mean time on my knees in prayer and time
in the Word. I try to begin it with Him, though I cant always say Im
Once Ive laid the foundation by starting my day that way, I
dont ever feel that I get too far from His presence. In meetings, or before I do an
interview, I pray. I find myself praying continuously during the day. I believe strongly
in Proverbs 3:5-6. (Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own
understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.)
I cant do this job without Christ. I need wisdom. I need so
many things that only He can provide. There are so many demands on my time, and so many
opportunities to make the wrong decisions and go down the wrong path. So I have to begin
the day the right way, then constantly talk to Him and listen to Him throughout the
Does It Make Any Difference?
When I trust and depend on Him, he provides me with confidence
and peace of mind, Kevin says. I know God is sovereign, in control. I feel
that He blesses me with knowledge and allows me to focus. When I look to Him, I can live
in a continual state of worship and praise. I want to be in continual communion with
Malone was hired to rebuild the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he
consistently prays that he will not lose focus of his true priorities.
My prayer this morning was, While Im trying to make
the Dodgers the best, please dont let me get distracted from noticing those in need
and actively helping them. Help me to love others in word, truth, and action.
I want to be an example. I want people to see Christ in me.
Whether hes sitting in the comfort of his church in Panorama City
or on the hotseat in his office at Dodger Stadium, to Kevin Malone, the goal is the same.
Taken from Sports Spectrum, a Christian sports magazine. Used by permission.
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