Rob Manfred hasn’t discussed tomahawk chop with Braves

Atlanta Braves stop the tomahawk chop, fans fight back

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he hasn’t talked with the Braves about their ongoing use of the tomahawk chop chant.

Speaking with media at CoolToday Park, the Braves’ new spring training home, on Sunday, Manfred was asked if he’d talk with the Braves regarding the chant, which has been part of the Braves’ culture since the 1990s.

Manfred explained the chop simply isn’t among MLB’s priorities right now. Baseball has been tasked with handling the Astros’ cheating scandal, which has had ripple effects across the sport and spread a wildfire of dialogue and controversy.

“I’m sorry to admit this, but with all that’s been going on, I can honestly say I have not had a conversation with the Braves about the tomahawk chop,” Manfred said. “It’s not that I don’t understand it’s an issue, it’s just simply too much going on and I haven’t gotten around to it.”

In October's NLDS Game 5 at then SunTrust Park (now Truist Park), the team chose not to distribute foam tomahawks after doing so for Games 1 and 2 of the series. They also said they would limit the amount they pumped chopping ques through the stadium speakers during the game, which ended with the Braves being eliminated from the postseason.

Braves fans perform the tomahawk chop before Game 1 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, at SunTrust Park in Atlanta. 

The sudden change was prompted by comments from Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, whose family has deep roots in the Cherokee Nation. In an interview with the St. Louis Dispatch, Helsley described the chant as "disrespectful" and "kind of caveman-type."

When asked if he personally wants the chop removed from the Braves’ presentation, Manfred didn’t offer a concrete yes or no. He reiterated MLB would eventually discuss the topic with the club.

“Look, I think that across sports, we have seen different communities with different levels of tolerance on particular issues,” he said. “I have not had a chance to talk with Atlanta about this as a follow up to what we saw last season. It happens other places. We need to think through how closely we want to regulate what goes on in particular communities and in particular ballparks, on one hand.

“On the other hand, I certainly understand the sensitivity on this issue and have been proactive in terms of Native American concerns with respect to the Indians logo. So it’s something that will remain a topic of conversation.”

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