Rob Manfred defends controversial tomahawk chop, Braves' name

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By , Audacy

With the Atlanta Braves back in the World Series, the controversial tomahawk chop chant and gesture will be front and center and Major League Baseball has no plans on making the franchise discourage it.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred stood by the team and the chop when asked about it ahead of Game 1 of the World Series in Houston on Tuesday.

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“It’s important to understand we have 20 markets around the country,” Manfred told reporters. “They’re not all the same. The Braves have done a phenomenal job with the Native American community.”

Manfred added the Native American community in the Atlanta region is “wholly supportive of the Braves program, including the chop. For me, that’s the end of the story.”

Yet, the gesture has received plenty of backlash over the years.

In 2019, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley — a member off the Cherokee nation — took issue with the tomahawk chop during the NLDS while he was on the mound pitching.

The Braves attempted to reduce encouragement of the chop following his comments, but that seems to have been short-lived.

The National Council of American Indians have also deemed the chop offensive and have asked called on the franchise to not only eliminate it, but to also change the team’s name — a move that the Cleveland Indians are doing next year, when they will become the Guardians.

But Manfred again pointed to the Braves’ relationship with the Atlanta Native American community as reason why a chance in the near future is unlikely.

“Each market is different,” he said. “Way before this became an issue, Atlanta cultivated a relationship with the Native American community which was very helpful in terms of making decisions like the two that have been raised.”

Manfred rebuffed when asked if the opinions of Native American communities outside Atlanta would change his stance.

“We don’t market our game on a nationwide basis,” he said. “Ours is an everyday game. You have to sell tickets every single day to fans in that market. And there are all sorts of differences among the clubs, among the regions as to how the game is marketed.”

MLBPA head Tony Clark says that he hopes to have a dialogue with the league on a variety of social issues, which includes the ones stemming in Atlanta.

“An issue that yields or excites the kind of commentary that you’re seeing in Atlanta is worthy of some dialogue,” Clark said, per ESPN. “I know that there are certain things that as a Black man resonate with me, and we’ll assume that there are instances that resonate with others as well. And to the extent that that’s one of them, then it’s worthy of some dialogue.”

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