On Sunday, for the 5th consecutive season, Major League Baseball is commemorating Civil Rights Day, with the event taking place tomorrow afternoon when the Braves host the Phillies. “There’s no city in all of Major League Baseball that represents both Major League Baseball combined with civil rights than Atlanta,” boasted Braves GM John Schuerholz yesterday, and he might be right. A more pointed question, however, might be whether an emphasis on civil rights is thoroughly undermined by ritual acts, logos and merchandise that demean Native Americans. MLB.com is flogging various caps and shirts to mark tomorrow’s occasion, and you’ll note while they’ve got the Braves wearing uniforms & caps of the Negro Leagues’ Atlanta Black Crackers today, Sunday’s swag seems to be remarkably tomahawk-free. The same can’t be said for the actions of the paying customers, however, who see no irony in attending something that’s meant to mark “Civil Rights Weekend” while Tomahawk chopping during Kyle Kendrick’s warm-up tosses in the last of the 6th inning. There’s also the unfortunate timing of Roger McDowell returning from suspension just in time for this weekend’s series, as if you needed any reminder that while toiling as one of the Braves’ most beloved players, John Smoltz famously compared same-sex marriage to getting hitched to Mr. Ed
If you’re thinking the Braves are in a no-win situation with me, you’re 100% right. There’s probably nothing they could do prior to this weekend that would’ve met with my approval short of repudiating the Chop (did the A/V dept. not receive a memo about this?) and asking the former Chief Noc-a-homa to hand out literature at the gate explaining how some peoples’ civil rights are every bit as precious as others’.
(UPDATE : I take it back, I’m no longer so sure a city in the State of Georgia is the place to mark Civil Rights Day).