You don't want to be the guy who follows "the guy."
You don't want to be the next manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Joe Maddon resigned.
He was "the guy."
Jon Gruden, John Tortorella and Tony Dungy are revered by some, but they are not "the guy."
Gruden won with Dungy's players. Dungy never won the Super Bowl here. Tortorella coached the Tampa Bay Lightning to their only Stanley Cup and was called a one-year wonder. They were all fired.
Joe walked out on his own, away from the empty ballpark and miniscule payroll.
He spoiled the organization. By their absence, the fans acted as if he should feel grateful to manage their team.
They were wrong. He deserves more.
So long, Joe. It's sad to see you go.
Rays fans (wherever they can be found) will be singing that song to cry themselves to sleep for a long time.
You cannot replicate a Maddon.
He is a 60-year-old kid so comfortable in his own skin that everyone over 30
There will be no more medicine men to cleanse the Rays haunted bats, no Maddon fashion parade to turn the clothing industry upside down and no more snakes to frighten the evil spirits out of the Rays clubhouse.
He made you feel proud to be a nerd and invented his own vocabulary that only Maddon fans could understand.
From now on, there will be just boring Rays baseball making Tropicana Field look like a convention of invisible people.
Oh, it already looks that way, doesn't it?
The next Rays manager will be under a Maddon microscope. He will be buried under an avalanche of statements like "Joe didn't do it this way."
It's unfair, but it is the way of the Rays.
You don't want to be that guy. The only thing you can do is win ballgames, and that might not be enough. You are replacing the pope of St. Petersburg.
Following Maddon is tougher than managing the Yankees or Dodgers and the bloodthirsty media members who follow those teams.
You can't just be a baseball manager. You have to be part Sigmund Freud, Aristotle and Plato and have the knowledge of a Certified Public Accountant.
Maddon was perfect for the low-budget Rays. You can't teach what he did and how he instilled a belief in players to be better than they were. It's a gift and Maddon had it.
He was a genuine person who bent the truth only to get a player to perform better.
If a quality free agent came to the Rays, it was usually because of Maddon. If you had a reputation as a troublemaker, playing a year for Joe would make you marketable again.
Maddon had rosters filled with minor leaguers that looked like big leaguers thanks to him and his affection for sabermetrics.
The worst of times for the Rays was often the best of times for Maddon because he made you smile and forget the team's misery. It brought out the creativity in him.
He didn't have an ego that would alter his effectiveness. He understood each player had to be handled differently, but treated everyone with respect.
Maddon was "the guy" to every sports fan who lived within driving distance of the outdated ballpark in St. Petersburg.
The closest thing we've had to that is when Steve Spurrier was "the guy" at Florida from 1990 to 2001. Ron Zook followed and failed. Urban Meyer came along and became "the guy." Current Florida head coach Will Muschamp has already been fitted for the guillotine.
Maddon is impossible to replace.
You don't want to be the person who follows him.
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.