Pluto is a planet. Pluto is not a planet. Pluto is a "dwarf planet"? In August 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted to strip Pluto of its planetary status and relegate it to a new "dwarf planet" classification. The IAU decided that, to be called a planet, an object must have three traits: It must orbit the sun, be massive enough that its own gravity pulls it into a nearly round shape, and be dominant enough to clear away objects in its neighborhood. To be admitted to the dwarf planet category, an object must have only two of those traits - it must orbit the sun and have a nearly round shape (moons do not count). In addition to Pluto, Ceres and 2003 UB313, joined the list of dwarf planets.
The population of the United States officially passed the 300 million mark on Tuesday, October 17, 2006. While it took almost two centuries for the U.S. population to reach 200 million, it took just 40 years to add the last 100 million. The number of people living in America almost tripled in the 20th century, with most of that growth coming just since the 1960s. The United States is now the third most populous nation in the world, behind China and India.
Two of the richest men in the world also made major headlines in 2006. Microsoft revealed that cofounder, Chairman, and former CEO Bill Gates will be giving up his day-to-day duties at Microsoft. Gates is relinquishing his title of Chief Software Architect now, but will continue to be involved in the company's operations on a daily basis until July 2008. Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, the second richest man in the world, announced his plans to gradually give 85 percent of his wealth to five foundations. The vast majority will go to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, run by Microsoft chairman - and the world's richest man - Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda. The foundation, which has about $30 billion in assets, focuses on world health as well as improving U.S. libraries and schools. Buffett's contribution would double the foundation's current assets.
Roberto Clemente. Thurman Munson. Davey Allison. Rocky Marciano. Knute Rockne. Payne Stewart. Fourteen members of the 1980 U.S. amateur boxing team. A handful of names among the forty plus athletes and teams that have been killed in plane crashes since 1925. And now Cory Lidle. In Manhattan's Upper East Side on Wednesday, October 11th, a Cirrus SR20, struck the 30th and 31st floor of a high-rise building taking the life of the pitcher and Tyler Stanger, his flight-instructor.
121 runs batted in (4th), 113 runs scored (5th), 35 home runs smashed (7th), a .392 on base percentage (9th), and the reigning American League Most Valuable Player Alex Rodriguez was booed by his home town fans nearly each time he made an out in 2006. Every strikeout, error, ground out took on an odd life of its own in Yankee Stadium this season and had Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle been alive, they would have welcomed him to one of the most unusual clubs in either league.
The New York Yankees (East), Minnesota Twins (Central), Oakland Athletics (West) and Detroit Tigers (Wildcard) rose to the top in the junior circuit during the 2006 regular season. No American League team won more than a hundred games, but the Tampa Bay Devil Rays & Kansas City Royals did lose a hundred.
Two American League players, Jose Canseco (1988) & Alex Rodriguez (1998), get company as Alfonso Soriano joins Barry Bonds (1996) on the National League side of the 40/40 Club - players who have hit at least forty home runs and stolen at least forty bases during the same season. Just to keep it interesting, Soriano added a third 40 to the list as he finished with forty doubles creating a 40/40/40 Club of his own.
On September 24th, San Diego Padres closer extraordinaire Trevor Hoffman surpassed former St. Louis Cardinals great Lee Smith's record of four-hundred seventy-eight career saves then continued pushing the Major League record to four-hundred eighty-two regular-season saves (and counting). Hoffman's game jersey, the game ball, and his cleats were all donated to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and placed on display. Hoffman said, "It was overwhelming. It's become a very humbling experience. It's been fantastic up to this point. It's hard to put into words to explain what it feels like. It's more than one person deserves."
The New York Mets (East), St. Louis Cardinals (Central), San Diego Padres (West) and Los Angeles Dodgers (Wildcard) rose to the top in the senior circuit during the 2006 regular season. No National League team won or loss more than a hundred games during the season and a tight wild card race between as many as ten teams at some points kept the race unpredictibly hot throughout most of September.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig's press release reflected the baseball's world's feelings when the legenday Buck O'Neill passed away on friday, October 6,2006, "Major League Baseball is saddened by the passing of Buck O'Neil. Buck was a pioneer, a legend and will be missed for as long as the game is played. I had the good fortune of spending some time with him in Cooperstown a couple of months ago and I will miss his wisdom and counsel. I have asked all clubs to observe a moment of silence before today's games."
Take four pools of baseball teams, mix in sixteen different countries, have each play a series of games against one another and the inaugural World Baseball Classic is actually, a classic. 737,112 fans around the world walked into five parks and watched as the Japanese put the crowning touch on the 17-day / 39-game tournament that was played in Tokyo, Arizona, Florida, Puerto Rico and Southern California with the climax coming on Monday, March 20, 2006 at PETCO Park. Final score: Japan 10, Cuba 6.
More baseball fans passed through Major League Baseball ballpark turnstiles in 2006 than ever before. The single-season attendance record was broken for the third consecutive season on Saturday, September 30th, as fans walked into the Metrodome to watch the American League Central game between the hometown Minnesota Twins and the visiting Chicago White Sox. Someone at the game became the record setting 74,926,175th fan to attend a big league game in 2006, breaking the record set in 2005. A total of 76,043,902 fans attended Major League games in 2006 - a 1.5 percent increase over the previous record.
"There's room for a ton of improvement. That's the good news. The bad news is we've (2006 Atlanta Braves) just done about everything you can do wrong in one season." - John Smoltz on MLB.com (Mark Bowman, 10/02/2006)
Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard
Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard
In 1991 the Atlanta Braves franchise began an unprecedented / truly historic streak of consecutive division titles. Fourteen years of National League East titles came to an end in 2006 as the 2006 Braves finished four games below .500.
Did you know that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright made his Major League debut September 11, 2005, but joined the home run in first at bat and home run with first pitch "club" in 2006? The right-handed hurler had no at-bats in 2005 and no batting practice since Spring Training 2006, but deposited the first pitch Noah Lowry threw him over the left field wall. After the game Wainwright commented, "I think that's just a lucky day. Everything was going our way. I wasn't thinking anything, then I thought, 'Oh my goodmess, I just hit a home run."
Notable feats in 2006 included: Jose Reyes of the Mets hitting for the cycle on June 21st; the 6,364 games without a no-hitter drought coming to an end as Marlins rookie Anibal Sanchez , making only his fourteenth Major League appearance no-hitting the Diamondbacks on September 6th; Matt Murton of the Cubs hitting four doubles in a game and Albert Pujols / aka "Mr. April" hitting a Major League record fourteen home runs in the month of April .