Astronomers at the International Astronomical Union's general assembly in Prague, Czech Republic, voted Thursday to demote Pluto. The tiny, icy rock is no longer a planet. Instead, as a so-called dwarf planet, it's the first member of a new category.
Harsh news for Mickey Mouse and other skywatchers who favor a "large solar system" approach. There had been talk of letting Pluto keep its planetary status, but that would have required the astronomers to acknowledge that a whole bunch of similar iceballs in its general neighborhood were also planets.
This would have led to schoolchildren trying to remember the names of all the planets with a mnemonic that went something like "My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas Xerox 2-by-4 crazy Charo."
But there's good news too. Terrell Owens' ego has been nominated for planethood.
And Bill Parcells' ego is a satellite. The Tuna Moon. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' ego is in Molniya orbit.
The headlines this week have said that Owens has reaggravated his hamstring injury, but of course what's really getting aggravated and reaggravated is the coach.
Parcells wants Owens on the field, wants to see how he does in what for Owens is a new offense. Owens is saying the kinds of things that have endeared him to people everywhere he's ever gone: "If he wants to see something, he has 10 years of film to go back and look on."
Can you think of a worse match than Terrell Owens and Bill Parcells? Is there any way this situation is going to work out? After one year of stellar behavior in Philadelphia, Owens took less than another year to wear out his welcome, even as Eagles coach Andy Reid bent over as far backward as a guy shaped like Andy Reid can bend to accommodate him.
And this was after years of then-San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Marriucci bending over all sorts of ways for Owens.
Does Bill Parcells strike you as a bend-over-backward kind of guy? Me neither.
Can you think of a worse place for Terrell Owens to have gone than Dallas? Well, maybe you can. But Dallas didn't make a lot of sense except to the egos involved.
As the Football Outsiders' preseason annual "2006 Pro Football Prospectus" points out, the Cowboys, who had pretty good receivers and a lousy offensive line, really didn't need to sign Owens. Sure, he's an upgrade over the jettisoned Keyshawn Johnson. He'd be an upgrade over almost anyone.
But he ain't much of a blocker, as Drew Bledsoe is sure to be thinking after each of his 40 or 50 sacks this season. Jones got his man because Owens is the man, a superstar, the kind of guy who looks good with the blue star on his helmet.
Never mind that the offensive line "upgrade" consisted of signing journeyman Jason Fabini and former Detroit Lion Kyle Kosier, a nice player but one whose main value is his ability to play anywhere on the line. The Cowboys got their star.
And never mind that Owens requires a bend-over-backward coach just to stay in marginally hot water, as opposed to boiling. He was going to Dallas because the Cowboys are a glamour team befitting his fabulosity. Not last time, not this time, not next time are you going to find Terrell Owens voluntarily plying his trade for the good citizens of Baltimore, not to mention, say, Cleveland or Jacksonville.
Here's another preseason annual, Street & Smith's, quoting an anonymous rival on Owens: "The only thing that hurts him is his mouth. I don't think it will be a problem as long as he feels he's an integral part of the offense ... If Parcells is smart, like I know he is, he'll make sure T.O. gets his touches."
Parcells is smart. But never mind getting him his touches, he hasn't been able to persuade Owens to get on the field. Hamstring injuries are notoriously difficult to read -- it's a great injury for slackers because the diagnostic method is to ask, "How's it feel?" -- and maybe T.O.'s legitimately injured.
But it's clear Parcells doesn't think so, and it's hard to blame the guy, blowhard that he is, for not taking Owens at face value.
Here's another quote from that Street & Smith's, from Owens: "I'm going to put those things behind me. They can only make a man stronger, wiser. For me, that's what it's done. I'll be a better teammate, a better person, a better man in life."
How's that going so far? Care to comment, Bill?
Street & Smith's likes the Owens signing and is picking the Cowboys to win the NFC East. This column hasn't made its annual preposterous and always wrong NFL predictions yet, but it's going to be taking a good long look at the division's other three teams.
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Correction: Royals did contend once [PERMALINK]
Several readers pointed out that my list of statements about the experience of 18-year-old baseball fans Thursday included one error, to wit: "The Kansas City Royals have never been contenders, never mind winners."
This ignores the out-of-nowhere 2003 season, when the Royals started 16-3 and were within three and a half games of the first-place Minnesota Twins with 12 days left. They finished 83-79, in third place, seven games out.
It remains their only winning season since the 1994 strike, and I'm sorry I ignored it. Frankly, I thought I'd dreamed it.
Previous column: Same old Royals?
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