By Scott Cacciola
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 Monday, 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.
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.”
Last Wednesday, a member of the Mets’ group sales department e-mailed the A.I.C.H. in response to a series of questions from the group, which sought an explanation.
“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.”
People around the blogosphere quickly recognized the Mets' action as a craven cave-in:
Mets Try To Honor American Indian Culture, Upset American Indians
By Tom Ley
[H]ere we may have the lowlight of the Mets' season: Citing sensitivity when choosing to spurn a group of American Indians in favor of a baseball team that routinely offends American Indians.
By Caitlin Kelly
While the nature of this snafu is particularly Mets-ian in its clumsiness, the underlying discomfort with Native American heritage is common enough in the sports world.
By Matt Mullin
The decision clearly showed that the Mets value the Braves more than the people their mascot represents.
By Travis Waldron
For more on the Atlanta Braves, see Braves Reject "Screaming Indian" Cap and Braves Bring Back "Screaming Savage."
Below: Atlanta Braves fans "honor" Indians by demonstrating how savage they supposedly were.