Dodgers’ Stan Kasten in ‘Tomahawk Chop’ Braves throwback video is jarring
By Adam Weinrib
Los Angeles Dodgers fans experienced the stuff of nightmares during Games 1 and 2 of the 2021 NLCS in Atlanta this past weekend, stuck with not one but two walk-off losses while a gleeful crowd crowed and chanted them into oblivion.
It was unpleasant for all of us, but served as an uncomfortable reminder to those of us who haven’t watched the Braves in a while: yes, the Tomahawk Chop is still going strong.
Yes, somehow, in this modern world where offensive sentiments are swiftly met with waves of backlash and dealt with, tradition be damned, the Braves have managed to skirt on the Chop completely.
If it feels like the very recent past when it seemed like management would address and deal with the chant, that’s because … it was. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, a member of Cherokee Nation, called for the Chop to be abolished while playing in Atlanta during the 2019 NLDS. At least during his outings, his wish was the team’s command.
Of course, the franchise’s promised addressing of the issue in the offseason never came. Instead, we’re simply … here now, wrapping up a 2021 season where the mass hand motions and war chants are still encouraged by the scoreboard.
Even more embarrassing? This literal 30-year-old clip from the 1991 World Series that surfaced again this week lays bare every single issue that still remains with the tradition — and Dodgers team president Stan Kasten uncomfortably cameos, delivering the most cringe-worthy line of the entire production.
Dodgers team president Stan Kasten had some not so wonderful thoughts on the Tomahawk Chop 30 years ago.
Yup, that’s our guy! Front and center, refusing to commit to the idea of treating Native American protestors as fellow humans!
Kasten’s partnership with the Dodgers began during his successful 2012 bid to gain ownership, aligned with Magic Johnson’s celebrity group. Long before coming to LA, though, Kasten was heavily associated with Atlanta sports, serving as the Hawks’ GM throughout the successful ’80s (starting at age 27!).
He became president of the Braves in 1986, adding to his impressive portfolio, and was the team’s caretaker during their ’90s NL dynasty before eventually serving as the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers’ president, too, trying to add another major sport to the city’s offering.
The whiz kid’s presidency left him in perfect position back in 1991 to fumble with his own franchise’s strange legacy of chopping during their World Series run, which eventually ended with a defeat in seven classic games to the Minnesota Twins.
Perhaps things would’ve turned out differently had Kasten been willing to make any sort of comment — any one at all! — regarding the humanity of the people he was aiding and abetting the dehumanization of.
Maybe his Dodgers wouldn’t be contending with Atlanta’s inspirational wall of noise in this pivotal postseason at all.