Braves' tomahawk chop gesture a matter for Atlanta's Native American community, commissioner Rob Manfred says

HOUSTON -- Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred will listen to the Native American community around Atlanta about whether the Braves should encourage the tomahawk chop gesture during the World Series, which is taking place from Games 3-5 of this weekend.
Manfred stated that it was important to realize there are 30 markets across the country before the Astros and Braves play Game 1. They're all different. "The Braves have done an amazing job with the Native American Community."

Manfred stated that the Atlanta Native American community is "wholly supportive" of the Braves program, which includes the chop. That's it for me.

However, Native American communities have had varying opinions about the gesture over the years, with some having ties to the region. The National Council of American Indians called for the franchise's name change and the team chop.

These issues are more relevant this year because the Cleveland organization changed its long-term nickname from the Indians, to the Guardians. Manfred's response to a possible change in Atlanta's nickname was the same as for the chop: It is a local matter.

He reiterated, "Each market differs." "Each market is different," he said.

Tony Clark, head of the MLB Players Union, said that he was open to having a discussion about any aspect of baseball that has an impact on social issues. This is one.

Clark stated that any issue that generates or excites the same kind of dialogue as what you see in Atlanta is worthy for some discussion. Clark said, "I know there are certain things that I as a Black man resonate. We'll assume there are other instances that resonate with us as well." It's worth having some dialog if that's the case.

Manfred was asked if his opinion would change if Native American communities were not in the Atlanta market and took exception to the gesture.

Manfred stated that the game is not distributed nationwide. "Ours is an every-day game. Every day, you have to sell tickets to that market. There are many differences between the clubs and regions in how the game is promoted.

Ryan Helsley, a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, was a Cherokee Nation member who complained about the chop during his team's playoffs match against the Braves.

Atlanta tried to discourage it, but it has been reinstated. It was a problem at Braves home games in this postseason.

Atlanta will host the World Series' middle games, just months after Manfred moved it from Atlanta to Denver because of voting rights concerns in Georgia. Sources said that he was concerned about players protesting playing in the game. Tuesday's question to the commissioner asked if it was becoming harder for sports and politics to remain out of political matters.

He said, "Harder than it used be." "We have always tried not to be political. This year, however, there was an exception. We want to avoid any exceptions to this general rule.

"We have a diverse fan base with many points of view. We want to keep the emphasis on the field.

The upcoming expiration of the current collective bargaining arrangement between the league and players union was another topic that predominated the game. It expires Dec. 1. The owners may lock the players out if they don't reach a new agreement.

"It's No. Manfred stated that it is his No. 1 priority. Collective bargaining wins when you reach an agreement.

Sources close to the negotiations say that most of the key financial issues are still unresolved, but both sides have shown some optimism with just five weeks left.

Clark stated, "We have at this point taken advantage of all the days at the All-Star Game and we anticipate taking advantage the days leading up to and through expiration."

Manfred said: "The most important thing is that I know our clubs are 100 per cent committed to the idea of an agreement by Dec. 1.

CBA negotiations will also discuss potential on-field rule modifications. Commissioner's primary concern is the length of a game, which has increased from 3:10 to three minutes this year. The possibility of a pitch clock is now being explored at other levels of baseball.

Manfred stated that "there's going be a time when the pressure to make changes is going to suffice." "I prefer to make it happen by coming to an agreement with the players."

This report used information from The Associated Press.