Yesterday I wrote about Rob Manfred’s curious comment that the Braves have “taken steps” to “take out” the Tomahawk Chop cheer at their games. It was curious because there is no evidence whatsoever that the Braves have taken even a single step to do so. To the contrary, they are giving away foam tomahawks at their home opener this year, still call their offseason fan fest the “Chop Fest” and their social media accounts still use “chop on” as their signature hashtag.
We learned last night, however, that Manfred misspoke. From 11Alive.com in Atlanta:
Citing sources with intimate knowledge of this situation, 11Alive Sports has learned that Commissioner Manfred simply misspoke regarding the state of the Tomahawk Chop, which has been a staple of Braves home games since 1991 . . . Additionally, our source said that Manfred had intended to praise the Braves for removing Chief Noc-A-Homa brand from in-game action and merchandising, a measure that was phased out after the 1986 season.
We all make mistakes. But Manfred’s episode of misspeak does raise some questions, doesn’t it?
A very obvious takeaway here is that Manfred thinks it’s a good thing for the Braves to eliminate problematic elements of Native American iconography. I mean, he said this while accepting an award for helping pressure the Indians to drop Chief Wahoo and said that MLB and the Braves should get credit for removing theirs too (even if he was thinking of Noc-a-Homa). So, even assuming the misspeak, it is thus established that Manfred believes it to be a good thing for the Braves to eliminate problematic elements of Native American iconography.
So . . . if Manfred thinks getting rid of one unfortunate bit of Braves Native American iconography — Noc-a-Homa — is good he must, to be consistent, support getting rid of other unfortunate bits of Braves Native American iconography, right? Which means that he either (a) supports getting rid of the Tomahawk Chop too; or (b) does not take issue with the Tomahawk Chop or find it to be an unfortunate bit of Native American iconography.
Which is it? Does Manfred think the Tomahawk Chop is OK or does he want it gone? It has to be one or the other. He has affirmatively ceded the non-committal middle ground on this topic.
I do not wish, at the moment anyway, to litigate whether or not the Tomahawk Chop is, in fact, unfortunate, problematic, offensive or racist. I mean, obviously, I have my own very strong feelings on that which you can probably guess, and we will no doubt talk more about them soon. For the moment, however, I am most curious in figuring out where Major League Baseball stands on the matter in light of Manfred’s comments. If and when we get some certainty on that, we’ll have a bit more direction on the topic.
And yes, I have asked MLB for comment. They have yet to respond to my inquiry, but I will let you know if and when I get it.