The Atlanta Braves took steps to reduce the tomahawk chop during Game 5 of the NLDS after St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Ryan Helsley criticized the celebration earlier in the series, but they didn't eliminate it.
Though the Braves did not distribute foam tomahawks to fans at SunTrust Park prior to Wednesday's contest, the team said it would only avoid playing the music that accompanies the cheer or displaying associated graphics when Helsley was actually in the game.
The rookie reliever, a member of the Cherokee nation, called the cheer "disrespectful" following Game 1 of the series and described it as a "misrepresentation" of Native Americans.
"Out of respect for the concerns expressed by Mr. Helsley, we will take several efforts to reduce the tomahawk chop during our in-ballpark presentation today," the Braves said in a statement obtained by Mark Saxon of The Athletic. "Among other things, these steps include not distributing foam tomahawks to each seat and not playing the accompanying music or chop-related graphics when Mr. Helsley is in the game.
"As stated earlier, we will continue to evaluate how we activate elements of our brand, as well as the overall in-game experience. We look forward to a continued dialogue with those in the Native American community after the postseason concludes."
Prior to Game 5, Helsley voiced his support for the Braves' efforts.
"I think they're taking the right steps," he said, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN. "I think it's a positive thing. Fans might not like it, but maybe they can reflect back on it and see it was a good move."
The Braves began using the tomahawk chop after Deion Sanders joined the team in the 1990s, adopting the chant from Florida State, where he starred as a football player.