November 3, 2021

2013 Red Sox Are Still The Last World Series Champions To Celebrate On Their Home Field

The Boston Red Sox are still the last World Series champions to win the title on their home field. (Thanks, Astros, for winning Game 5.)

The Red Sox beat the Cardinals 6-1 in Game 6 at Fenway Park on October 30, 2013. The subsequent MLB champions (2014-19, 2021) have all clinched on the road or at a neutral site (2020).

In the last 21 years (since 2001), exactly half of MLB's 30 teams have won a World Series championship. Three teams have won more than once: Red Sox (4), Giants (3), and Cardinals (2).

11-0, 1985 Royals vs Cardinals (Game 7)
11-0, 1934 Cardinals at Tigers (Game 7)
 9-0, 1956 Yankees at Dodgers (Game 7)
 8-0, 1909 Pirates at Tigers (Game 7)
 7-0, 2021 Atlanta at Astros (Game 6)
 5-0, 1983 Orioles at Phillies (Game 5)
 5-0, 1957 Milwaukee at Yankees (Game 7)
 3-0, 2004 Red Sox at Cardinals (Game 4) (and three others)

There were two shutouts in this year's World Series, the first WS whitewashes since 2016. In that series, Cleveland beat the Cubs 6-0 in Game 1 and 1-0 in Game 3 and led three-games-to-one, but lost the final three games.

Why Does MLB Still Allow Synchronized, Team-Sanctioned Racism In Atlanta?
During World Series Games 3, 4 And 5, A Nationwide Television Audience Will See A Largely White Crowd Mocking A People Its Ancestors Tried To Erase.

Stephanie Apstein, Sports Illustrated, October 28, 2021 (my emphasis)
Seven months ago, Major League Baseball moved the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to institutional racism. On Friday, it will hold the World Series there – and this time, MLB is the institution supporting racism.

The name "Braves" is bad enough. Fans might see it as honoring Native Americans, but in equating them to Tigers and Cardinals, it dehumanizes them. Beyond the name, though, the crowd's favorite gesture, known as the tomahawk chop, is unconscionable. At every home game, fans raise and lower their right arms in unison, howling a mock war chant. "It's offensive," says Claudio Saunt, a professor at Georgia who specializes in Native American history. "I also find it kind of embarrassing, just knowing that the whole country is seeing it on national TV."

Anyone tuning into World Series Games 3, 4 and 5 will be subjected to this synchronized racism dozens of times: any time the home team scores, any time the opposing team changes pitchers, any time it has been too long since a largely white crowd mocks a people its ancestors tried to erase.

Is this what MLB wants at its signature event?

Evidently. The tomahawk chop is sanctioned by the team, and therefore by MLB. In 2017, commissioner Rob Manfred began to pressure Cleveland to "transition away" from its Chief Wahoo caricature; eventually Cleveland dropped both the mascot and the Indians name. In April, Manfred relocated the All-Star Game to Denver after Georgia passed a law that made it more difficult for people – especially Black people – to vote. Yet Atlanta can lead its fans in a racist chant throughout the game, and MLB does nothing – and therefore supports it. . . .

"It is overtly racist," says Aaron Payment, secretary of the National Congress of American Indians and chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. "Whether people understand it or not, it's overtly racist." . . .

Game 1 of the NLCS featured 14 chops; Game 2, 20; Game 6, 24, including three on consecutive pitches. Roughly half of these were instigated by fans; the rest were team-initiated, complete with music piped over the PA system and graphics splashed across the jumbotron. During each pitching change, the team went so far as to darken the stadium to set the mood, as fans used their cellphones while they chopped to create a racist light show. And the spectacle travels: During Game 4, which Atlanta won 9–2, a few chops broke out at Dodger Stadium.

If this seems like an old complaint, it is – and that is an indictment of the team. Thirty years ago this week, before Game 1 of the 1991 World Series between Atlanta and the Twins, some 800 people protested the chop outside the Metrodome in Minneapolis. . . .

Why is this still happening? There are plenty of other ways to celebrate a home run or intimidate opponents during a pitching change. . . . 

The Boston Braves got their name in 1912, after Red Stockings, Red Caps, Beaneaters, Doves and Rustlers all failed to catch on. The new moniker was a reference to owner James Gaffney, who belonged to the Tammany Hall political organization, which was named after Lenape chief Tamanend.

"That was an era when white people thought that Indians were backwards, that they were incapable of surviving in the modern world, and that they were going to vanish from the face of the earth," says Saunt. . . .

The team moved to Milwaukee, then to Atlanta. Along the way it acquired as a logo a caricature called the "screaming Indian" and a mascot named Chief Noc-A-Homa, a man dressed in Native American attire who danced and set off smoke bombs from his teepee in the left field seats. Chief Noc-A-Homa was retired in 1986 when the team argued with his portrayer, Odawa Tribe member Levi Walker, about payment. The logo made it to '89, a "Scalp 'em" billboard to '92.

The chop is widely believed to have followed outfielder Deion Sanders from Florida State when he joined Atlanta in 1991. "We don't discourage any of that," Stan Kasten, then Atlanta's president, told the Los Angeles Times in '92. The chop salute, he argued, ridiculously, "doesn't have anything more to do with Indian culture than the wave." Kasten now holds the same role with the Dodgers. Asked before Game 2 of the 2021 NLCS whether his feelings on the matter had evolved, he declined to comment.

Georgia, though, has a lot to do with Native American culture. It was largely due to the state's influence that the Indian Removal Act of 1830 passed. That law led to the Trail of Tears, the forced migration of some 100,000 people from the southeast to territory in what is now Oklahoma. Some 15,000 people died along the way. The Indian Removal Act was one of the most contentious pieces of legislation to that point; it passed the House of Representatives by only four votes. All seven of Georgia's members of Congress voted yea.

"Georgia played a really oversized role in formulating Indian policy and Indian removal," says Saunt. "Without Georgia's politicians pushing it on the national stage, [the Indian Removal Act] would not have unfolded in the way it did." . . .

"I have maps – there were Cherokee families living right near Truist Park who were forced out of their homes by state militia in 1838," Saunt says. "It's very personal." . . .

Atlanta officials continue to claim impotence. "No matter what the decision is from our vantage point," Schiller told The AJC, "this started as a fan initiative, and the fans are likely going to keep doing it anyway."

Officials from another championship-contending franchise have made similar claims. The NFL's Chiefs, who call their version of the racist gesture the Arrowhead chop, have also received complaints from Native American groups and have also rebuffed them by deferring to the fans. The league has not intervened; to the contrary, commissioner Roger Goodell did the chop during the 2020 NFL draft.

So Atlanta has a chance to set an example. It's time for the team to show the courage it claims its name represents. It no longer distributes foam weapons en masse, but it has much more work to do. Officials should announce that they no longer tolerate that particular brand of bigotry. Nix the graphics and the music. Then start throwing people out of the stadium. MLB should step in here, too, with fines that could escalate to baseball penalties until Atlanta takes action. If the team starts losing draft picks, it would pretty quickly figure out a way to put a stop to this. Fans of Mexico's national soccer team have long chanted an anti-LGBTQ slur; the national federation enforced policies this year to eject fans who yell it and to stop matches if it continues. In September, the team played a World Cup qualifier in an empty stadium as punishment.

The Atlanta organization, meanwhile, leans into racist imagery. It seems to know the chop is offensive – before the 2020 season it changed its slogan from "Chop On" to "For the A" – but tomahawk branding still pervades Truist Park . . .

Native American activists say they would like to see the Braves' sponsors – Truist, Delta, Nike, State Farm and Miller Coors – speak out, as FedEx did about the old Washington Redskins' name. It was only after the company threatened to pull its funding that team owner Dan Snyder changed the name. So far, businesses associated with Atlanta do not seem ready to take that kind of action. In a statement, Truist says, "We support the Atlanta Braves and their work with the Native American community on the responsible use of Native American culture and imagery in the sport." Delta, Nike, State Farm and Miller Coors did not return requests for comment. . . .

In the meantime, the team chops on. During the 14th chop of the night in Game 1 of the NLCS, Atlanta switched its jumbotron image from its tomahawk graphic to a new one, designed to encourage the fans to be offensive more loudly: "I CAN'T HEAR YOU."

Yes, we can.
The Atlanta organization has known the chop is racist and offensive from the very beginning of its use. There were protests during the 1991 World Series and the team stated at that time it would take a hard look at the practice after that fall's World Series. That was nothing more than an empty gesture (and a statement the team has repeated over the decades) intended to get placate protesters until the World Series was over.

The Atlanta team's ownership has shown over and over that it does not give a shit. In Georgia, racism and baseball go together like peanuts and Cracker Jack. Would attendance really drop if fans were not allowed to be overtly racist for three or four hours? The team seems to think so.
Kevin B. Blackistone of the Washington Post notes that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, the tone-deaf dolt who recently gave a hearty thumbs-up to loud public displays of racism at the most important games of the sport he oversees (and hates, judging by his actions), was given the National Congress of American Indians' Public Sector Leadership Award in 2019 because of whatever the hell he did that helped the Cleveland team decide to phase out its use of Chief Wahoo. The NCAI might want to think about revoking that award.

1 comment:

FenFan said...

As I've stated in the past, I still really don't have an issue with the Braves being the name of the team, but I do agree that the "chop" is offensive, and the fact that the organization encourages this display during games is beyond the pale. I do think it's going to take an action like the one FedEx took against the Washington Football Team to get ownership to reevaluate its priorities because, above all, money talks.

The fact that Cleveland FINALLY, after years of pressure, changed its moniker to the Gladiators provides some hope that Atlanta ownership will do the same future forward.