'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. 

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

For the most part, Carson Wentz had a pretty successful rookie season. 

Sure, the Eagles finished with a 7-9 record, but Wentz did enough to continue the franchise's belief that he is indeed the quarterback of the future. 

Another guy in Dallas did the same thing with the Cowboys. Actually, Dak Prescott had an even more impressive rookie season, leading the Cowboys to 13 wins, while winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. 

Prescott, a fourth-round pick, had a great year, but didn't try to do too much. And that's what impressed Eagles head coach Doug Pederson the most. 

"[Prescott] understood this right away, that he didn't have to win the game for them," Pederson said on The Doomsday Podcast, hosted by Matt Mosley and Ed Werder. (Pederson also talked about running the Rocky steps). "He knew that he had a good defense, a tremendous offensive line, a great runner, he had some veteran players that he could rely on and he learned that early. As soon as he had the opportunity to play and that was early, from Day 1. 

"That's something that a young quarterback, sometimes it takes them a while to figure out the game that way. That's the impressive thing, that he learned how to handle that business that well, utilize the people around him and understand that he didn't have to go win the game."

While Prescott had plenty of help during his rookie season, it was pretty evident Wentz was lacking in that area. 

Prescott had a great offensive line, Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott and others. Wentz had an offensive line that was missing Lane Johnson, an often-injured Ryan Mathews and receivers like Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham playing serious snaps. 

So it made sense when the team went out this offseason and signed Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and recently LeGarrette Blount, as free agents, finally getting Wentz some real help. 

"We had opportunities to get those two guys and it was obvious last year, we were young at the wide receiver position," Peterson said. "We needed some leadership, some veteran presence there and we went out and got that with Torrey and Alshon. We still want to build through the draft, we still want to acquire young talent. 

"LeGarrette Blount now is a guy that gives us that big back, running back, that can come in and compete and hopefully he does everything he did at New England the last couple of seasons. He had 18 rushing touchdowns for over 1,000 yards and we just expect that same level of performance here."

Maybe having weapons will allow Wentz to do what made Prescott so impressive to Pederson in 2016: not too much. 

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to eighth in order

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to eighth in order

Pete Mackanin is still searching for answers to the Phillies' offensive woes following Sunday afternoon's disheartening 1-0 loss in Pittsburgh during which the Phils could only muster three hits.

The latest lineup twist as the search for an answer continues will see Michael Saunders bat in the eight-hole tonight as the Phils open a four-game series with the surging Rockies tonight at Citizens Bank Park (see game notes).

When he has started this season, Saunders has been a fixture within the middle of the Phillies' order. After all, the offseason free-agent signing was an All-Star last season for Toronto when he hit 24 homers and drove in 57 runs.

But this season hasn't gone as planned as Saunders is hitting just .232 with four homers and 15 RBI in 41 games with the Phils this season.

With Saunders' drop down the lineup, Tommy Joseph will bat fourth, Maikel Franco fifth and Odubel Herrera sixth against Rockies spot starter Jeff Hoffman.

Tonight's full lineup can be found below:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Aaron Altherr LF
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Maikel Franco 3B
6. Odubel Herrera CF
7. Cameron Rupp C
8. Michael Saunders RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff SP