'Stripped' of All But Clothes and Pride, Lance Armstrong Still Eligible for Philly Naked Bike Ride

'Stripped' of All But Clothes and Pride, Lance Armstrong Still Eligible for Philly Naked Bike Ride

I guess it's unfortunate that news of Lance Armstrong ending his battle against a set of doping charges came without shock. That he'd give up fighting anything is somewhat surprising, and, as a fan, there was some initial disappointment. Pro cycling is well-known to be infested with doping, and many fans and critics of Armstrong have long believed him to be among the peloton of cheaters. But, importantly, Lance hasn't admitted to any wrongdoing with this gesture—far from it. He has only said he refuses to continue fighting the US Anti-Doping Agency, an organization he considers a blend of a witch hunt and a kangaroo court. Armstrong had been challenging the USADA via lawsuit, but the suit was dismissed earlier in the week when a federal judge ruled that the court had no jurisdiction. 
The USADA says it has stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France wins and banned him from participating in future competitions. It remains to be seen whether the agency has the power to do so (the quotation marks in the title are there because he may not actually be stripped of any previous achievements), nor what it means to strip titles in a sport as tainted as cycling. But while I hate that we can't have the great memories of summer mornings spent watching Lance's amazing Tours without the tinge of doubt, I'm not going to spend too much time lamenting it now or exploring what the news actually means. You can read more on that here and here
There's something more fun in the cycling world to focus on. As you make your way around town on Saturday, don't be surprised if a huge pack of bikers in various states of undress descends upon the street in front of you. Philly's annual Naked Bike Ride is today. 
What's the Philly Naked Bike Ride, you ask? 
Besides being so self-explanatorily named that none of you is actually asking that, the stated mission of the ride is to promote fuel conscious consumption, positive body image, and cycling advocacy. That may be the goal for some folks, but others are probably just in it for the gettin-naked-in-public-and-seeing-others-do-the-same aspect. 
Full or partial nudity is not required, and there are no cycling proficiency standards. Anyone can participate, wearing (or not wearing) anything they want. Hell you don't even need to ride a bike. You could probably do it in a wagon with an oar if you were into "advocating" urban wagonboating and were savvy enough with the oar to avoid causing a massive naked pileup. 
The group's web site says that in three previous Naked Bike Rides dating back to 2009, no "legal incidents" have been reported. It's unlikely the US Anti-Doping Agency will be enforcing its code on the streets of Philly today, but other regulations may or may not be enforced (including other kinds of doping). It appears to be an "at your own risk" event for everything ranging from injury to arrest to having your undercarriage appear on the internet. 
So where will the riders be? Here's a look at the planned route, which starts on Washington Ave. at 4PM, loops around Center City, along the Parkway and City Hall, and finishes at the Piazza sometime around 7PM tonight.
So don't be alarmed if thousands of painted, taped, topless, scantily clad, or fully nude bike riders pass you today. It's just one of Philly's new traditions, even if it's a worldwide event involving 70 cities in 20 countries. (Due to its timing, it's also a way for us to discuss the farthest ends of the cycling spectrum in a single post).  
For more info, visit the Philly Naked Bike Ride home page, which has plenty more on the event, including how to participate, rules for photography and filming, and links to Facebook etc. 

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.