Upton Abbey: Episode 5 – Guess Who’s Not Coming To Dinner

upton abbey bannerDinner is a popular event at the Abbey, and after last episode’s three-course meal, it seems it’s supper time again.

This episode presents a baseball-themed inversion of a classic dinner trope, as there was no dinner guest to be found when the paternalistic Braves arrived in Queens this week to dine with the Mets:

When the Mets approached the American Indian Community House, a New York-based nonprofit organization, in March about helping to organize a Native American Heritage Day, the proposal struck members of the group as a good opportunity to celebrate their involvement in the community. A date was selected — July 25 — and they began to plan pregame festivities that would include traditional dancing and singing outside Citi Field.

But there was a glitch, as far as the Mets were concerned: they were scheduled to host the Atlanta Braves that day. So in the past week, concerned that such activities might be interpreted by the Braves organization as a form of protest over its nickname, the Mets drastically reduced the day’s activities: no singing, no dancing. And now there won’t be any American Indians, either.

On [July 8], the A.I.C.H. pulled out of the event, citing frustration with the Mets for thwarting months of planning. The team has removed the event from its online schedule of activities.

“Being a nonprofit in the city, we’re not in the business of making enemies,” said Kevin Tarrant, the deputy director of the A.I.C.H., which describes itself as an organization that aims to “cultivate awareness, understanding and respect” for thousands of American Indians who live in New York City. “This whole thing wasn’t even our idea. But it just feels like we’re being marginalized again within our own community.”

Tarrant said his group originally hoped to hold the festivities in early June so that the game would coincide with an area powwow, a traditional American Indian gathering. But with the Mets on a road trip that week, the group suggested July 25 as another option. It was a 12:10 p.m. game, Tarrant said, which meant more children were likely to attend. Also, another powwow was planned for the following weekend in Queens.

That the Mets were scheduled to face the Braves that afternoon was coincidental, Tarrant said, though the group was not so naïve as to ignore the political overtones. Various groups have criticized the Braves for their use of American Indian imagery, in particular the team’s Tomahawk Chop chant.

“It wasn’t like we were planning to protest anything,” Tarrant said. “We just thought it would be great to show natives in a positive light — that we’re human beings, and we’re not from 300 years ago. We’re visible.” He added: “It was a win-win situation. We’d be supporting the Mets, the Braves and Major League Baseball.”

It was not until July 1 that the Mets contacted the A.I.C.H. to inform the group of significant changes to Native American Heritage Day: no public-service announcements of any kind, and no pregame festivities outside the stadium. The group could still attend the game and do some fund-raising, but that would be the extent of its involvement.

The Mets, Osborn said, suddenly seemed “only to be interested in holding a Native American Heritage Day without the culture.”

“It was brought to my attention that we need to be sensitive to the Braves being a partner MLB team and can’t put them in a situation for a potentially negative environment to be brought upon them,” the Mets official wrote. “I know this is not the plan, but sometimes people come to events under different agendas than expected. I’m not referring to [A.I.C.H.] or any of the organizations involved, but more about unknown groups that may want to change the perception of the event.”

The Mets official wrote in the e-mail that the Braves had nothing to do with the decision.

(Emphasis added.) The full article is available here.

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Other, more common guests have been absent from the Braves scene in recent days as well.

Right before the all-star break, Atlanta’s celebrity outfield squad knocked itself out in the span of two days, when Jason Heyward and B.J. and Justin Upton all went down with leg injuries. Most recent, gruesome, and serious of all, though, was starting pitcher Tim Hudson, who had his ankle destroyed by a Met baserunner while covering first base. The injury will end Hudson’s season.

Pitcher Kris Medlen is still around, but he’s not the Kris Medlen the team knew last year, and that is cause for concern as well.

Evan Gattis is back in action, though, and he should get used to eating dinner with this team. While manager Freddie Gonzales hasn’t quite found a consistent spot at the table for Gattis, el Oso Blanco should squeeze in and enjoy some of those new waffles; with starting catcher Brian McCann possibly set to leave after this season, Gattis could find himself with a regular seat at the plate in 2014.

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Previously
Episode 4 – A Three-Course Meal
Episode 3 – Hosting Royalty
Episode 2 – Lords of the Mannor
Episode 1 – Beginning, as we must, with Chipper

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