Friday, September 30, 2011

The Horror, The Horror—Babi Yar

Women executed at Babi YaR
Seventy years ago on September 29 and 30, 1941 most of the Jews of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev were transported to an isolated ravine named Babi Yar.   

Over the course of those two days we know by the meticulous records kept by the Nazis that 33,771 men, women, and children were shot and killed.  It was the greatest mass execution of the Holocaust and as far as anyone has been able to determine the perhaps biggest single mass execution in all of history.

The Germans occupied Kiev on September 19.  Within days the Nazi military governor, Major General Kurt Eberhard decided to eradicate the Jews of Kiev in retribution to partisan attacks on German soldiers. On September 25 posters were put up in the Jewish quarter commanding Jews to report with their baggage, papers, and valuables for deportation on the 29th on pain of death.

S.S. commanders ordered to carry out the planned execution estimated that about 6000 would voluntarily show up and that they would have to conduct raids to secure the rest.  But almost the entire population obeyed the order.  

The Jews assembled as ordered near the Jewish Cemetery.  They expected to be taken to rail yards for further transportation.  They were continually re-assured that everything would be fine. They were loaded in trucks and driven down a long corroder lined with German troops.  When unloaded they were told to strip all of their clothes.  One of the truck drivers described the scene:

…they had to remove their luggage, then their coats, shoes, and over garments and also underwear … Once undressed, they were led into the ravine which was about 150 meters long and 30 meters wide and a good 15 meters deep … When they reached the bottom of the ravine they were seized by members of the Schutzpolizei [battalions of ordinary German Police mobilized for service under the SS] and made to lie down on top of Jews who had already been shot … The corpses were literally in layers. A police marksman came along and shot each Jew in the neck with a submachine gun … I saw these marksmen stand on layers of corpses and shoot one after the other … The marksman would walk across the bodies of the executed Jews to the next Jew…
Units of Ukrainian collaborators also assisted the S.S. in maintaining order among the Jews as they were led to the slaughter.  Considering that the operation had to be conducted in such a primitive manor—as opposed the industrial gas chambers later in use—it was remarkably efficient.

The Babi Yar ravine continued to be an execution site as long as the Germans remained in the area.  Concentration camps were eventually constructed nearby.  Victims included not only more Jews rounded up from smaller cities and villages, but Roman (Gypsies), Soviet prisoners of war, occupants of mental hospitals, Communists, Ukrainian nationalists, and hostages of every sort.  Estimate run to 100,000 to 150,000 more executions in and around Babi Yar, most of them dumped in that seemingly bottomless ravine.

As Soviet forces closed in on the Germans in Kiev, they began systematically trying to destroy evidence of their crimes.  In August and September of 1943 about 300 chained prisoners from the nearby concentration camp were put to work exhuming bodies from the gorge.  The bodies were burned in makeshift crematoriums and the ashes scattered over surrounding farm land.  It is believed that up to 90% of the bodies were disposed of in this way.

The identities of most of the dead remain unknown.  Despite years of painstaking research Yad Vashem and other Jewish organizations has recorded the names of only around 3,000 Jews killed at those days Babi Yar and 10,000 killed in the area for the course of the war. 

Following the war, S.S. commanders were sentenced to death and long prison sentences for their part in the killings.

Several monuments to various victims of Babi Yar have been erected there forming a kind of memorial park.  The largest, a monumental statue to all Soviet Citizens and POWs killed, presumably including by not specifically mentioning the Jews, was erected in 1971.  On the 50th anniversary of the killings a large Menorah was erected to commemorate all of the Jewish victims killed there during the war.  It was damaged by vandals in 2006.  There are two large wooden crosses, one for 621 Ukrainian nationalists shot in 1942 and another for two Orthodox priests executed for spreading anti-German propaganda.  By a subway station a memorial to the children of Babi Yar was installed in  2001.  

As the horror story of the two days at Babi Yar got out, the mass murder gripped the attention of the public and of artists.  A censored version of the Russian/Ukrainian writer Anatoly Kuznetsov first hand memoirs, Babi Yar: A Document in the Form of a Novel was published in a Soviet literary magazine in 1956.  In 1971 Kuzetsov defected to Britain and brought out with him his original manuscript on film.  It was published 1970 under the pseudonym A. Anololi. Expurgated text was inserted in the original Russian version and highlighted in bold text.  The new edition became an international sensation.

The best known literary memorial is the one by Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko.  In it he decried not only the original crime itself, but the Soviet policy of refusing to acknowledge that Jews were the special victims of the Nazis and its general encouragement of semi-official anti-Semitism.  Written in 1956, the poem circulated in the Soviet union via underground  Samizdat—copies, usually carbon-paper typescripts, surreptitiously passed hand to hand.  Copies also found their way to the West where the poem was translated and reprinted to lavish praise.  It was not until the beginning of the glasnost era that the poem was officially published in the USSR.  Yevtushenko developed an international reputation as a dissenter based on this and a 1961 poem denouncing the continuing vestiges of Stalinism.  But dissident writers who were imprisoned in the Gulag have charged him with making many compromises with authorities pointing out that he continued to be a member of the Communist Party and was protected by top leaders.  He only criticized what was safe to criticize, his critics said.

None the less Yevtushenko’s poem Babi Yar remains a powerful expression.  Another Soviet era artist, composer Dmitri Shostakovich, set the poem to music in a movement of his choral Symphony #13 which premiered in Moscow in 1961 during a brief period of internal liberalization under Nikita Khrushchev.

Here is Yevtushenko’s poem, written before the Soviet monument was erected:  

Babi Yar
By Yevgeny Yevtushenko,  Translated by Ben Okopnik

No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o'er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.

It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself.
The Philistines betrayed me - and now judge.
I'm in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I'm persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.

I see myself a boy in Belostok
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.

I'm thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of "Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!"
My mother's being beaten by a clerk.

O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.

I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The anti-Semites have proclaimed themselves
The “Union of the Russian People!”

It seems to me that I am Anna Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I'm in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other's eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed - very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.

-“They come!”

-“No, fear not - those are sounds
Of spring itself. She's coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!”

-"They break the door!”

-“No, river ice is breaking...”

Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgment.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I'm every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.

No fiber of my body will forget this.
May Internationale thunder and ring
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of anti-Semites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that's blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that's corrosive
Am I by anti-Semites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bobbies Take to the Streets of London

An early Bobbie seems a bit suspicious of these guys.
Note:  Re-edited and reposted from one year ago today.

On September 29, 1829 1,000 tall men—all six footers or more—in even taller hats began patrolling the streets of London.  The were the first men of the Metropolitan Police Department based out of a place called Scotland Yard.  Organized by British Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel they quickly earned the nick-names Peelers and Bobbies in honor of their founder.  They were, according to some standards, the first modern city police force.

As any reader of Charles Dickens knows, London in the early 19th Century was a dirty and dangerous place.  It was the richest and largest city in the world, the capital of an Empire approaching its peak.  But its densely packed, gin soaked—the water was not potable and gin was cheaper than beer or cider—slums were cold and miserable hell holes and a perfect breeding ground of crime.  

Centuries of trying to maintain order by use of the military or inadequate forces like the Bow Street Runners and draconian sentencing had no impact.  Public hangings of twelve year old pick pockets and shipping hundreds, even thousands away around the world to penal colonies had not had the desired effect.  The wealthy and comfortable cared not a whiff if the denizens of the slums slaughtered each other, but they were being set upon in public, robbed, beaten, and even killed by ever bolder criminals.  Something had to be done.

The Bow Street Runners, also cited as the first police force, had been a start.  Founded in 1745 by Henry Fielding—better known as the novelist who wrote A History of Tom Jones, Foundling—then the Chief Magistrate of the Bow Street Court, the force started with only eight men whose job it was to arrest offenders on the order of the magistrates.  In many ways they were more like bailiffs than police officers.  The force grew under Fielding’s younger brother and came to include some patrol like duties.  But funding came and went at the whim of authorities and the Runners had rudimentary training.  In 1808 a mounted contingent, who came to be known as the Robin Red Breasts because of the scarlet waistcoats they wore under grey greatcoats, as added for street patrol.   But there were never enough Bow Street Runners and their authority and mission not clear.

Enter Sir Robert.  Peel was born in 1778 the son of a wealth Lancashire textile manufacturer who had been elevated to the Peerage.  He was an early protégée of Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, who sponsored his election to the House of Commons from a 24-vote rotten borough of Cashel, Tipperary in Ireland when he was only 21. He was a fast rising star in the Tory party and given a number of administrative posts.  By 1813 he was Chief Secretary in Dublin where he organized the Royal Irish Constabulary, a para-military police force.

As he rose in the party, he picked up more prestigious constituencies in England, including Oxford University.  In 1822 he entered the Cabinet as Home Secretary.  Peel undertook sweeping reforms of the English criminal law, including greatly reducing the number of capital crimes, repealing many criminal statutes and consolidating them into a code under a series of measures called the Peel Acts.  Central to his reforms were overhauls in the jail system and the creation of the police force.

Because of public resistance to the idea of a large police force, Peel made every effort to make his force as “civilian” as possible.  Their uniform was the high top hats of the day, and blue swallow tail coats with brass buttons.  There would be no scarlet tunic, helmets, or swords associated with the Army.  The men were un-armed except for a wooden truncheon which they kept in a long pocket sewn into the tail of their coats.  They were also issued handcuffs and a loud wooden clacker meant to summon help in an emergency.  The 1000 member force—soon to grow—was necessary because each officer was assigned a relatively small foot patrol beat so that his neighbors were close enough to hear his alarm.  The men recruited had to be “of good character,” never been convicted of a crime, and at least six foot tall so as to be physically able to handle resistance.  A few officers were also assigned to horse patrol.

The men worked seven days a week with five unpaid holidays a year.  They were required to wear the uniforms even when off duty to both enhance police presence on the streets and to assuage worries that police in mufti would become “spies.”  For 1£ a week the mens' personal lives were tightly regulated.  Single men typically slept at stations and men were required to get permission to marry.  They could not vote in elections or express political opinions.  Intercourse with civilians was limited and permission was needed event to dine with one.

The police force was soon proving its worth, particularly in clamping down on general open and riotous behavior.  Their success overcame initial unpopularity and public suspicion.  By 1857 all cities in the United Kingdom were required to form similar forces.

Peel himself went on to follow his mentor the Duke of Wellington as Prime Minister in 1834 and after Whig interlude, returned to serve from 1841-46.  Although very slow to react as Prime Minister during the evolving Irish Famine, his repeal of the protectionist Corn Laws, which were thought to have greatly impacted the agricultural crisis in Ireland, caused him to loose his leadership of the Tories.  He remained active, however, in political affairs.  He led a Tory rump faction known as the Peelites and flirted with fusion with the Whigs and Radicals until he was thrown from a horse and killed in London at the age of 62 in 1850.  His Peelites, under the leadership of his protégée William Gladstone, did complete a fusion with the Whigs and became the modern Liberal Party.

Today uniformed Bobbies continue to patrol the streets unarmed, although special details and units are issued fire arms.  In general they are held with high regard in most communities in contrast to American urban police forces which are armed to the teeth, isolated in squad cars, and regarded as a hostile occupying army in many poor and minority communities.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oh Crap! You Mean it Ain’t True?

It is the sad duty of your obedient servant, this blogger who covers historical events and personages both great and small, to occasionally disabuse you of your most cherished illusions.  

Like this one:  The standard flush toilet was invented by Sir Thomas Crapper in the Britain in the 19th Century, lending his name to the product of human solid waste disposal on account of his name being emblazoned on his products.

Wrong on two or three major counts, but containing the kernel of truth.  

On the other hand the self-appointed myth busters who claim that the whole thing is a lie and that there never was a Thomas Crapper are also wrong.
The very real Thomas Crapper was baptized on September 28, 1836 in Thorne, Yorkshire. The exact date of his birth is unknown, but babies were typically christened about two weeks after birth.  He was apprenticed to his older brother George as plumber. After  completing his training  and spending three years as a journeyman, he set up his own first shop near his brothers Chelsea establishment in West London in 1861.

In addition to plumbing services Crapper advertised himself as a sanitary engineer and a brass foundry man.  He began manufacturing plumbing fixtures and obtained several patents that improved the already existing flush toilet.

The ancient Romans had continuously flushing toilets in their elaborate baths and in villas of the extremely wealthy.  The Dark Ages, however, had pretty well wiped out memory of them. 

Elizabethan courtier Sir John Harington was credited with a developing a flush toilet called The Ajax around 1596 which had a water shut off device.  The clever devise became the object of political controversy when Harington wrote a book about it, A New Discourse upon a Stale Subject: The Metamorphosis of Ajax in which he also satirized one of the Queen’s favorites resulting his banishment from court and the languishing of his invention.

Alexander Cumming obtained a patent on an improved flush toilet in 1775.  In 1778 Joseph Bramah obtained a patent on an improvement that replaced Cumming’s slide valve at the bottom of the tank with the familiar flap valve still seen in most toilets. By the late 18th Century water closets, as they were called, were being manufactured and installed in the homes of the wealthy.

Edward Jennings got another patent for further improvements on the flush toilet in 1851.  Thus when Thomas Crapper began producing and marketing his own water closets, he was joining an already established line of business.

In the 1880’s Crapper got the distinction of having Royal Warrants when he won a contract to install several Thomas Crapper & Company water closets in the country seat of Prince Edward.  He also supplied Edward as king and his successor, George IV.  The prestige boosted the sales of his appliances.

But Crapper did hold several patents, including two for key improvements.  The Silent Valveless Water Waste Preventer was actually invented by Albert Giblin 1898 who was either an employee of Crapper or from whom the manufacturer obtained a license.  Crapper also held a patent, probably invented by his nephew on the ballcock or float valve that automatically closed the flap valve of the supply tank when the siphon filled it with water.
Taken together, these improvements made the familiar flush toilet that can still be seen and used throughout Britain—an over-head, wall mounted reservoir tank whose flush mechanism is engaged by a pull chain releasing water through a pipe into the bowl below.  These models were proudly emblazoned with the badge of Thomas Crapper & Sons.

Thomas retired in 1904 and died in 1910.  He was a respected businessman but was never knighted.  The company passed into the hands of his brother and nephew.  Under a succession of owners it continued to produce Thomas Crapper toilet until 1966.

The legend that World War I Doughboys popularized the term crap for excrement based on seeing Crapper’s name on their facilities make so much sense that it is hard to deny.  But entomologists trace the use of the term as far back as the 1840’s when it first appeared in print.  It was probably in casual slang usage long before that.  Experts believe that it derives from the Old Dutch and German krappe for a “vile and inedible fish” and the Middle English crappy.  Still, it is hard to believe that Crapper’s name, ubiquitous on British porcelain, did not at least contribute to the popularization of the term.

Whatever the case, be grateful for you comfortable indoor plumbing facilities which whisk away your waste to a distant treatment facility.  Life would truly be full of crap without it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Home Run Race that Saved Baseball and the Downfall of Two Heroes

On September 27, 1998 St. Louis Cardinal slugger Mark McGwire smashed two out of the park to end the season with a record shattering 70 Home Runs.  Big Mac had connected with 5 round-trippers in the last three games of the season ending a long race with Chicago Cub Sammy Sosa, who finished with 64.

Baseball had been enduring an attendance slump for years since the season ending 1994 Player’s Strike, which outraged fans.  The long dominance of the National Football League in Television ratings and the surge of National Basketball Association popularity in the Michael Jordon era threatened Baseball’s status as the National Pass Time.  Some sports journalists, in fact, confidently predicted that Major League Baseball would shrivel in status, attendance, and broadcast ratings to the level of the National Hockey League, a perennial forth place among major professional sports leagues.

But fans returned in droves as the home run race that year packed not only Bush Stadium and Wrigley Field, but ball parks wherever the rival sluggers appeared.  The American League got its own boost from Seattle’s Ken Griffey, Jr., another potent slugger and fan favorite who started the season as McGuire’s acknowledged main competition in a race to shatter Roger Maris’s single season Home Run record of 61.

McGwire, who was Rookie of the Year in 1987 under manager Tony LaRussa with the Oakland A’s and hit a record 49 blasts in that first complete season, had followed his old manager to the Cardinals in 1997.  He had suffered a couple of years in Oakland with injuries that kept him mostly benched and a fall off of home run production.  But He came out of the gate strong in 1997, having bulked up his big frame with bulging muscles that he attributed to a rigorous work-out regime.  He had slammed 34 homers for Oakland before being traded to the Cardinals on July 31 and finished the season with 58, tantalizingly close to Maris’s record.

Most sports experts believe that he would seek free agency and a long term deal in his native Southern California, but he opted to stay with LaRussa and the Cardinals for a hefty pay raise.  As the ’98 season opened it was widely expected that it would be the year that he would pass Maris.

At the start of the season Griffey was in the middle of an amazing string of Home Run production had helped to propel the team to AL Championship Series in 1995, saved baseball in Seattle, and led to the construction of a new ballpark, now known as Safeco Field but popularly acknowledged as the “House that Griffey Built.”  Because of his equally good defense, Griffey was touted as the “best player in Baseball.”  Many picked him to pass McGuire and win the long sought-after new record.  Despite having fewer days lost to injury than any in his career, and matching his own season high record of 56 homers, however, Griffey was essentially out of the race by late August.

The Dominican born right fielder had come to the Cubs from the cross town rival White Sox in a trade before the 1992 season.  He had a reputation for a speedy, scrappy play who could slap hits for average, leg out close calls, and hit with only occasional power.  After his first season with the Cubs in which he hit only 8 homers, his production jumped.  So did his size.  Little Sammy Sosa bulked up noticeably year to year.  From 1903 through ’98 his Home Run totals dipped below 25 only once.  He finished the ’97 season with a very respectable 38.  Despite having proven power, no one was picking him for a contender against McGwire the next year.

That was before Sosa went on an epic tear in the month of June when he hit an astonishing 20 homers in just 30 days, a feat never before accomplished or matched since.  From then on Sosa was nipping at McGwire’s heels.  The lead in the race switched hands several times as media interest soared.  Sosa was given his nick name, Slamming Sammy, by Cubs broadcaster Chip Caray.  Sosa last held the lead on August 19 when he hit his 48th, but later that day McGuire matched him and added another.  He never relinquished the lead again.

The two were under intense press scrutiny, reminiscent of the frenzy shrouding the 1961 race between Maris and fellow Yankee Mickey Mantle.  McGwire and Sosa may not have played on the same team, but they were members of two teams in the same division in the longest running and one of the most intense rivalries in Baseball.  Both men were gracious in praising the other.  Neither seemed ready to wilt under the pressure.

The high point of the season came on September 8 as the two teams faced each other at Bush Stadium.  Everyone knew the record could be broken that day.  McGuire had already matched Maris’s record.  Not only was Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig present, but so were members of the Maris family.  Television networks stood by to switch to live coverage should McGwire set the record.  When McGwire hit the 63rd homer the stadium erupted in cheers he made his homerun trot.  His entire team greeted him at home base.  The game was stopped.  Sammy Sosa came from the Cubs dugout to embrace his “brother” and seemed genuinely to share the joy.  

McGwire went to the field box where the Maris family was sitting and acknowledge them.  Then, in a photo op moment that left hardly a dry eye, he picked up his young son in his own miniature Cardinal uniform and doffed his hat to the crowd. The stadium employee who found the ball quickly made sure that McGwire got it.  The second homer of the day was just icing on the perfect cake.

When the season ended, Sosa, not McGwire, won the National League MVP because the Cubs made the playoffs that year and the Cardinals finished only third in their division.  Sosa also topped McGwire in batting average, total hits, and on base percentage.  The two shared Sports Illustrated’s Athlete of the Year Award

Both players would go on to have good years.  Sosa became the first player ever to hit more than 60 home runs in three seasons in his career.  In 2001 Sosa hit 64 homers again, but trailed San Francisco Giant Bary Bonds who broke McGuire’s record with 73 homers.

McGwire’s production began to fall in 2000 and 2001 as he struggled with injuries.  Despite still hitting a respectable 27 homers in 97 games, he decided to retire after the 2001 season.  There were already rumors circulating about his possible use of steroids.

Sosa’s career also faltered after he was ejected from a game in June 2003 when a shattered bat in a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays was discovered to be corked.  Sosa claimed that he had accidently picked up a bat he used for batting practice only.  Despite the fact the when MLB tested 9 other of his bats, and another batch of his bats were tested by the Baseball Hall of Fame, none were found to be corked, both the press and the fans turned on him.  His many accomplishments and club records were declared tainted.  Despite leading the club to the National League Central Division Title that year and belting to homers against the Florida Marlins in the playoff, fans did not warm up to him again.

The next year Sosa spent an extended time on the Disabled List after he injured his back sneezing in the locker rooms setting of persistent back spasms.  The nature of the injury lead to speculation that the bulked up, muscle bound Sosa might be using steroids.  Upon returning to the team he went into the worst slump of his career and into depression.  When he packed his bags and left the Cubs club house before the end of the last game of the season, fans, press, and even fellow players with home he had a contentious relationship denounced him.  He was ignominiously traded to the Baltimore Orioles the next winter in a deal that made it clear the club was dumping him.

Sosa’s career never recovered.  He spent unproductive seasons with the Orioles and Texas Rangers.  The Cubs made a point of not retiring Sosa’s number.  Instead they assigned it to pitcher Jason Marquis.  Sosa got his revenge on June 7, 2007 when as a Ranger he hit one of the final homers of his career of Marquis.  That hit also made him the only man in Major League history to hit a Home Run off of pitchers from every single active Major League team in his career.

Despite abortive comeback attempts, Sosa played his last game in the majors that season.  He never officially retired, but told reporters that he would go back to the Dominican Republic and placidly await his induction into the Hall of Fame—a statement that many in baseball took as arrogant.  The Cubs have never invited him back to Wrigley Field for any honor.  There are no plans to add his statue to the growing collection around the field.  He is for all intents and purposes a non-person to the club and to many Chicago fans.

If that is a sad fate, McGwire’s was worse. 

In 2005 McGwire emotionally refuted charges by former Oakland team mate Jose Canseco that he seen McGwire take performance enhancing drugs before a Congressional Committee.  Sosa also appeared, but declined to answer questions letting his attorney read a statement.  Most commentators at the time did not believe the story because McGuire showed many of the symptoms of steroid use—in addition to packed on muscle mass, acne and depression.  

McGwire has failed to win election to the Hall of Fame—once considered a first ballot shoe-in—in each of the five years he has been eligible.  In each year his total percentage of ballots cast for him has dropped.  Many believe that he, like other super stars tainted by the steroid scandals like Barry Bonds and Roger Clements.  At least he has avoided indictment.

In a 2009 deal with Major League Baseball to return to the game as a hitting coach for LaRussa and the Cardinals, McGwire finally did admit to steroid use, but claimed it was only to treat the injuries that had threatened his career in his last years at Oakland, and occasionally for other injuries later—including in 1998—but not to enhance his performance.

The following year the Missouri State Legislature stripped its previous designation of a portion of Interstate 70 near Bush Stadium as Mark McGwire Highway and re-named the road for Mark Twain.
Reports are that this year is probably LaRussa’s last as skipper of the Cardinals.  If LaRussa leaves, McGwire’s continued tenure with the club is unlikely.