Georgia conservatives knocked the Atlanta Braves for pivoting from the “tomahawk chop” chant ahead of Wednesday’s humiliating Game 5 playoff defeat against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The team didn’t distribute the trademark foam tomahawks to fans at the decisive National League Division series game and took measures to reduce the chopping chant used to fire up the crowd after Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley raised concerns.
“This. Is. Painful,” tweeted state Rep. Trey Kelley, one of the top Republicans in the Georgia House, midway through the team’s first-inning implosion. “Have to feel this is karma for the unjustified and rash decision to do away with foam tomahawks.”
His was not a fringe sentiment. Nick Ayers, the former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence and a veteran Georgia operative, had a curt reaction to the team’s first-inning struggles.
“Maybe don’t ban the tomahawk chop next time?”
Debbie Dooley, a Georgia tea party organizer, said the Braves “jinxed itself by catering to a politically correct snowflake” and suggested the team change its name to “Atlanta Snowflakes.”
Erick Erickson, the conservative commentator, highlighted images of fans swinging oversized tomahawks.
“Braves refuse to go with the Tomahawk Chop and get crushed on the field,” Erickson wrote. “Fitting and embarrassing.”
Other Georgia Republicans added their voice to the mix, including the head of the Republican State Leadership Committee, the top aide to Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and a state Georgia GOP official.
The Braves have long faced pushback over the team’s name and its embrace of the tomahawk, but the pivot only came after Helsley, a member of the Cherokee Nation, criticized the tradition after pitching in Atlanta for the first time.
The 25-year-old rookie told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he thought the tomahawk chop was “a misrepresentation” of Native Americans and that it depicted his ancestors “in this kind of caveman-type people way.”
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The team’s logo was still featured prominently throughout the game, and fans broke out into the tomahawk chop in the first inning before the Cardinals’ 10-run onslaught sapped the life out of the stadium. The team has also used the “ChopOn” hashtag on social media throughout the season and postseason.
Kelley, the House Republican, said he considers the team’s name and the chanting tradition a “way to honor our state’s Native American heritage.”
“This complaint was rooted in gamesmanship,” he said of Helsley’s remarks, “and we allowed it to distract us going into a critical game.”
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