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Mike Lupica: Joe Schoen’s success with the Giants comes down to hiring the right coach

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Mike Lupica: Joe Schoen’s success with the Giants comes down to hiring the right coach

General managers matter, in any sport. One of the great general managers we’ve ever had around here, in any sport, was George Young, who came from Miami and changed the course of history with the Giants. Later, the guy who assisted him for a long time in Jersey, Ernie Accorsi, changed the course of Giants history himself, by making his draft day trade for Eli Manning.

But the Giants don’t win two more Super Bowls with Eli if they don’t have the right coach. That coach was Tom Coughlin. Wellington Mara was the one who finally said yes on Coughlin, after John Mara and Accorsi had really been the ones hiring him. You know what happened after that with Coughlin, even when he went up against Bill Belichick in two Super Bowl games as big as any championship games the Giants ever played.

And as great a football man as George Young was, look at what the Giants did for him when they had somebody other than Bill Parcells coaching the team.

The Giants hired a new general manager in Joe Schoen on Friday, and it looks as if he has a terrific resume. But guess what? They all have terrific resumes. The other eight guys John Mara and Steve Tisch talked to, they had crackerjack resumes, too. So did the other two finalists for the job. They all sound terrific on their way through the door, and the owners always say the same things about them.

The Jets were sure they had a winner when they hired a Joe of their own, in Joe Douglas. He had a resume, you bet. He was with the Eagles when the Eagles won a Super Bowl. And for now, the Jets are where they are, and might still not have found the right coach in Robert Saleh.

General managers matter in football. They’re still the undercard. Coaches are the main event. Now it will be up to Schoen to see if he can hire his own Parcells, his own Coughlin. If he can’t, then Schoen’s resume, principally with the Buffalo Bills, could end up being folded into a paper airplane.

I’ve known Accorsi a long time. He is one of the best and smartest people I have ever met, in any sport. And he has always said the same thing.

“It’s a coach’s game.”

It will absolutely be an essential partnership between Schoen and whomever he hires, when he does hire the next Giants coach, hopefully not gushing afterward, and sounding as giddy as a high school boy, about how well the guy interviewed. And it won’t always be an easy partnership, because it sure never was with George and Parcells. Nobody ever wins anything without players. Still a coach’s game in the end.

Is it a quarterback’s game, too? You bet. We still don’t know if the Giants are ever going to have one of those in Daniel Jones. Just look at the guys who were still playing this weekend. Tom Brady. Aaron Rodgers. Two of the best to ever play the game. Patrick Mahomes, who has been to the last two Super Bowls. Josh Allen. Matthew Stafford.

But even though Brady won without Belichick a year ago, do you really think Brady goes to nine Super Bowls with just anybody coaching him in Foxboro? Come on. Go back as far as you want to. Terry Bradshaw needed Chuck Noll. Both Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath needed Weeb Ewbank. Bart Starr needed Vince Lombardi. Joe Montana needed Bill Walsh.

Eli needed Coughlin. Phil Simms needed Parcells. But when Simms got hurt one year, Parcells was a great enough coach — and never forget he is one of the greatest of them all — to beat the Buffalo Bills in a Super Bowl with Jeff Hostetler as his quarterback.

Joe Schoen needs to get this hire right. If you don’t think coaches matter, look how things have gone with the Giants with coaches not named Coughlin. Ben McAdoo. Pat Shurmur. Joe Judge. Saleh may turn out to be the goods with the Jets, but for now he’s just the guy at MetLife Stadium who lost the same 13 games this season that Judge lost with the Giants. Saleh just has to hope that the guy who hired him, Douglas, is about to pad the resume here, so we don’t have to keep hearing what he did when he was working somewhere else.

Of course the draft matters in pro football. Of course scouting matters. And trades. And the right free agents. But after you’ve drafted and made trades and spent money on free agents, if you don’t put the right coach with the players, you mostly end up watching somebody else’s coach hold up the Lombardi Trophy.

Coaching isn’t the only piece. Doug Pederson, currently looking to get back into the game, beat Belichick in a Super Bowl when Brady fumbled at the end of Eagles vs. Patriots, when the whole world was sure Brady was going to take the Patriots down the field and win the big game again.

But ask yourself another question about coaches: Do you think it was just some sort of happy accident in Washington that Joe Gibbs won Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks?

Here is part of what Schoen said on Friday upon being named Dave Gettleman’s replacement:

“My immediate focus is to hire a head coach, with who I will work in lockstep with to create a collaborative environment for our football operations,” Schoen said. “We will cast a wide net, it can be former head coaches, first-time head coaches but, more importantly, it has to be a person who possesses the ability to lead an organization and the ability to motivate and develop players. Our goal is to build a roster that will be competitive, have depth, and most importantly, win football games.”

It all sounded exactly right. It always sounds exactly right when the honeymoon is just getting started. Now come the only two words that matter in sports, in moments like these:

We’ll see.

About this there is no dispute: Schoen takes on one of the biggest jobs in Giants history, for an organization, and that absolutely means from the top down, that has completely lost its way. It is not just one thing. It is almost everything that has happened over the past several years. He becomes as important to the Giants as Gene Michael was when he took over the running of the Yankees in the early 1990s when George Steinbrenner had set a world’s record and became the owner suspended from the sport for a second time. He becomes as important as Dave Checketts was when he took over the running of the Knicks, and changed the course of history at the Garden by getting the right coach in Pat Riley.

We know how much George Young meant to the Giants. Hall of Fame executive, George was, on merit. It was mostly because of what he did in Jersey.

Once he had the right coach.

Once he got with Parcells.

NOTHING NOBLE ABOUT KYRIE, TURNS OUT THE KNICKS AREN’T ANY GOOD & ROOTING FOR RAFA …

By the way?

In the last 50 years, the Jets and Giants have had 30 head coaches.

Three have won Super Bowls.

I don’t think Kyrie Irving stands on some high moral ground when it comes to the subject of vaccination.

I don’t think his opinions on this subject — if you can follow them once he starts wandering all over the gym explaining himself all over again — are noble or lofty.

Or as profound as he seems to think they are.

I think he’s just being selfish here, and wildly misinformed.

And not much of a teammate, whatever his teammates say in public.

I don’t care what kind of gift he has for basketball, or how much fun he is to watch.

I think his opinions on this subject are as chuckleheaded as Aaron Rodgers’s are, or Novak Djokovic’s.

The Knicks just don’t appear to be very good, do they?

Know something else?

When Julius Randle made the comments about Knicks fans and booing that he did not long ago (and before he apologized), you know what he might very well have been doing?

Punching his ticket out of town.

Yeah, I guess the Lakers being this badly put together, and being older than the Hollywood sign, must be Frank Vogel’s fault.

If you haven’t read an author from Iceland named Ragnar Jonasson, you ought to.

Guy’s a rock star.

In the craziness of the moment last weekend, with the Cowboys trying to get one more play run against the 49ers, give Tony Romo all the credit in the world for knowing that the ball wasn’t going to get snapped until the ref touched it.

I was ready for the reboot of the original “Law and Order” as soon as I found out that Sam Waterston was still going to be playing Jack McCoy.

I haven’t missed Antonio Brown nearly as much as I thought I was going to.

Tom Brady.

Forty-four.

And-a-half.

Trying to play himself to the last week of January again.

I hope Nadal wins the Australian.

Finally today:

My Pops, Bene Lupica, turns 98 this week.

I’ve told you about him plenty of times before, and the amazing American life he’s led, and the things he’s done and things he’s seen in his own American century.

He was born when Calvin Coolidge was President, he was a bombardier in B24s during World War II at the age of 20.

He ran off to join the Army Air Force because he wanted to make it a better and safer world.

Sometimes these days he wonders about our world.

But here is the sense of wonder I have about him:

He still thinks today is going to be the best day he ever had.

* * *

“The Horsewoman,” by James Patterson and Mike Lupica, makes its debut this week at No. 4 on the New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover fiction.

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Katelynn Berry: The Missing Persons Report

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Katelynn Berry: The Missing Persons Report

Katelynn Berry was a young woman who loved to get out and spend time with friends, even if it meant she had to walk somewhere from her apartment, which was a small renovated space above her father’s workshop. Katelynn’s friends and family didn’t think too much of her disappearance at first because it was so common for her to go a few days without answering her phone or texts. But as time went on, her parents grew worried that something may have happened to her.

Hank and Carmell Berry contacted Katelynn’s friends to ask if she had reached out to them during this time. No one had been in contact with Katelyn. A missing person report for Katelynn Berry was issued on December 31, 2021. The police working the case determined that she had last been seen at her apartment on December 21st, just 10 days prior. After conducting a thorough search of Berry’s apartment, the police determined that Katelynn had left her home without identification, her purse, or a coat.

This further concerned the girl’s parents and a search for Berry was launched. Carmell and Hank surmised that Katelyn likely had to go outside for something and did not expect to remain there. Her lack of a coat suggests that she intended to come back inside immediately but wasn’t able to for some reason. It remains unknown whether Katelynn may have locked herself out of her apartment, met someone outside, or left for another reason.

Body Located Fitting the Description of Katelynn Berry

The Sidney police searched the area for almost a month without success and by this time, the Berry parents were certain the news wouldn’t be good if they ever did find Katelyn Berry. On January 20, 2022, a volunteer search party had come in to assist and located a human body consistent with what they knew of Katelynn Berry. The body was transported to the medical examiner’s office where a full autopsy was performed.

It was determined that Katelynn died of hypothermia after being outside without proper cold-weather attire for a short period of time. It is not currently clear why the police search of the same area weeks prior did not reveal Berry’s remains, but the later volunteer search did.

Parents of Berry Still Don’t Have Answers

Katelynn’s mother and father went through the next several weeks in a daze, unsure of how their daughter had gotten outside and why she wasn’t able to go back inside for her coat. They suspected something terrible must have happened and that’s why Katelynn left the house, or perhaps Katelynn somehow went outside for something and couldn’t get back into the apartment. No evidence gathered by law enforcement during the investigation indicated the manner in which Katelynn lost her life.

Katelyn Berry’s Life

The Berry gave birth to their daughter Katelynn on February 1, 1995. She quickly grew into a smart young woman, finding great joy in reading, writing, and school in general. Katelynn was a passionate academic and later earned her degree at Northland Technical College. Her excellent grades garnered her a place in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and in her spare time, Katelynn liked to read, listen to loud music, and watch races with her father Hank.

About The Katelynn’s Voice Foundation

Katelynn Berry’s parents used their experience to create the Katelynn’s Voice Foundation, which is a scholarship program and non-profit organization dedicated to helping high school students who deal with the impacts of being diagnosed with a mental illness. The Foundation is currently active and recently paired with The American Legion to host annual mental health and addiction, awareness fundraiser.

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DJ LeMahieu confident he can avoid trip to injured list

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DJ LeMahieu confident he can avoid trip to injured list

ST. PETERSBURG — DJ LeMahieu was able to hit after Thursday night’s Yankees win and is fairly confident he will be able to avoid the injured list.

“I don’t want to get too excited, but it’s definitely felt better as the day has gone on,” LeMahieu said. “I think that cortisone finally just took.”

LeMahieu had a cortisone shot in his left wrist on Tuesday. Before Thursday’s game he said the wrist had not improved enough. He admitted he might need to go on the IL. Thursday night, he was not available off the bench and the Yankees had just catcher Kyle Higashioka available.

“DJ was not available. Although it sounds like he’s doing a lot better in literally the last two hours,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So we’ll see where we’re at. Kind of get together again tonight and see where we’re at in the morning.”

HICKS SCRATCHED

Aaron Hicks felt his right hamstring tighten during Wednesday’s game against the Orioles in the Bronx, but still tried to play Thursday. He had to be scratched less than an hour before first pitch, but he thinks he will be able to play on Friday.

“I definitely feel like I’ll be able to be there tomorrow and that’s what I’m planning on doing,” Hicks said.

The center fielder said he first felt it running to first base Wednesday. Boone said he asked Hicks to try and play Thursday, but after treatment he could not run at full speed.

The Yankees have gone through a bunch of injuries lately. Third baseman Josh Donaldson is on the COVID IL with a respiratory illness. Giancarlo Stanton is on the IL with an ankle injury.

NICE TO MEET YOU, YOU’RE BATTING EIGHTH

Matt Carpenter barely had time to put his bag down when he was called into a hitters meeting. The Yankees signed the former Cardinal and three-time All-Star before Thursday night’s game and when Hicks was scratched, he got rushed into the lineup.

“It was pretty crazy, I think I landed (in Tampa) at 3:20,” Carpenter said. “To be part of a huge win right away is pretty cool.”

Carpenter got hit by a pitch in the sixth and came around to score the Yankees first run of the night.

BRITTON AND GERMAN UPDATE

Zack Britton is expected to throw his first bullpen session since elbow reconstruction surgery on Tuesday, Aaron Boone said. The Yankees manager said he absolutely expects Britton to be back this season.

The lefty reliever was in the clubhouse before Thursday’s game. He has been recovering from left elbow reconstruction surgery in Tampa.

In other injury news, Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who has been rehabbing from a shoulder issue since spring training, has been facing live hitters in batting practice and is “close,” to getting a rehab assignment.

With the Yankees bullpen losing Aroldis Chapman (Achilles), Chad Green (Tommy John) and Jonathan Loaisiga (shoulder), German could possibly be a reinforcement when he is ready.

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David Banuelos’ impact with St. Paul Saints extends off the field

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David Banuelos, St. Paul Saints catcher

The backgrounds of Saints players feature a wide variety of honors and accolades from high school, college and earlier minor league stops.

Such notoriety for 25-year-old catcher David Banuelos includes being one of the three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award (given annually to the best collegiate catcher) in 2017 while playing for Cal State Long Beach. Banuelos’ recognized talents led to him being selected in the fifth round of that year’s draft by the Seattle Mariners.

Being recognized for his work off the field has proven to be equally gratifying. Banuelos was the recipient of the Twins’ annual Harmon Killebrew Award in 2018, given to players on all levels of the organization for their community work.

David Banuelos, St. Paul Saints catcher

“I love giving back to the community,” said Banuelos, who has continued his community work in the Twin Cities, prior to Thursday night’s 8-1 win over Indianapolis at CHS Field. “It’s something I was always appreciative of growing up.

“You can make a big impact in a person’s life just with the title that you have. Just taking a couple of seconds out of your day can make a little kid’s day — or year. I’m grateful for being in the position to be able to talk to kids and have a positive impact.”

The award has extra meaning to Banuelos due to the fact that one of his friends back in his native Ontario, Calif., is Killebrew’s grandson.

“It was a really cool award to win because I know the family personally,” Banuelos said. “His mom congratulated me as well for winning an award that was named after her father.”

Banuelos credits his own parents with instilling in him the willingness to give back whenever he can.

Interestingly, Banuelos’ middle name is Clemente, the surname of baseball’s greatest humanitarians, Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash on December 31, 1972, while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Following his death, Major League Baseball established the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to a player for his commitment to community service.

While Banuelos was not named after Clemente (it’s his father’s first name), the Pittsburgh Pirates legend has had an impact on him, especially being in a position of influence.

“People like that inspire you to do things (to help),” Banuelos said, “because there are bigger things in the world than baseball. When people like us can give back to the community they appreciate those kind of things.”

Banuelos’ community work usually involves kids, and he and his wife, Jessica, have a son, Ezekiel, who just turned 1. Being a father also has impacted Banuelos’ life, including on the field.

“The way I think has completely changed,” he said. “I control my temper a little more now on the field. It’s made me think twice before I do things — maybe three times. Because there are consequences to everything.”

BRIEFLY

Royce Lewis moved over from his customary shortstop to play third base on Friday. He made a diving stop behind the bag and threw out the hitter in the fifth. He also had two hits, drove in a run and stole a base.

Alex Kirilloff had a two-run home run, a double and an RBI single. Spencer Steer also homered.

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