Details on EA Sports’ college football video game, plus a Mets player’s epic meltdown

The Pulse Newsletter 📣 | This is The Athletic’s daily sports newsletter. Sign up here to receive The Pulse directly in your inbox.

Good morning! I’d go 30 seasons in a Dynasty with you.

While You Were Sleeping: The first-ever champs

We had two big hockey games overnight, with one ending in a title — the first ever for the PWHL: 

  • Minnesota is the first franchise to claim the Walter Cup after a 3-0 win against Boston late last night. Even better is Minnesota’s path, which began as the lowest-seeded team in the PWHL playoffs. They entered the postseason on a five-game losing streak, too. Hailey Salvian, who’s covered this league so well from its inception, was on hand to capture the historic moment.
  • In the NHL, the Oilers overcame an early 2-0 deficit against the Stars to even their series at 2-2 with a 5-2 win. Leads in hockey can be fleeting, but this game was frantic even by this sport’s standards. The Stars scored 30 seconds into the game, then again five minutes later, then never found the net again. 

What a sport.

Bated Breath: A sneak peek at College Football 25

The Athletic’s Chris Vannini and other journalists/creators got to live out my dream: spending some early time with the very long-awaited return of EA Sports’ college football game. Three things I found most interesting: 

  • The gameplay is noticeably different from Madden. A worry among those of us pining for the college game after its decade-plus hiatus: the game’s engine. It’s no secret the Madden franchise has slipped into a buggy, microtransaction-laden hell. Chris reports: CFB’s gameplay is smooth, realistic and revamped. Whew.
  • Yes, NIL is kinda in the game, though it’s not called by that name. It’s mostly in the Road to Glory feature, where you control a single player on a college journey, gaining “Brand Exposure” that provides gameplay boosts. We won’t be outbidding AI Kirby Smart for players yet.
  • But Dynasty mode and online play are what we came for, right? For the generation that grew up playing this game (I’m 34 years old and played every NCAA iteration from Ricky Williams’ cover in 2000 to the final 2014 edition), we lived on those modes. Chris wrote a whole story on the new Dynasty, and I can’t wait to dig into the newer features: the transfer portal, a deeper recruiting experience and, gasp, the College Football Playoff. The last time we had a college football video game, the CFP was still two years away. 

One thing I am disappointed to learn: the Online Dynasty mode will not support cross-play, meaning you can only participate with people who have your console. Team Pulse will have to begin on XBox. 

I recommend reading Chris’ full overview story, which goes much deeper. Our college football crew also did a podcast on the whole event

Chris Fowler is back. We’re all back.

News to Know

QB won’t return kicks
After some initial chatter, Steelers backup quarterback Justin Fields said yesterday he doesn’t plan to return kicks, an idea that spread after Pittsburgh running back Jaylen Warren mentioned the possibility of the QB factoring into the NFL’s new kick return rules. Fields insists he did not go to Pittsburgh to be a backup, and I have little doubt he’d be a dynamic kick returner … but I get the move.

Scheffler charges dropped
Louisville police dropped all charges against golfer Scottie Scheffler yesterday, following his shocking arrest outside of the PGA Championship two weeks ago. The outcome is no surprise after video of the incident emerged, raising questions about some claims made in the police report.

More news

Surprise! MLB’s most unexpected team

I loved the framing of Ken Rosenthal’s notebook in yesterday’s Windup: He, like most of us, didn’t think much of the Cleveland Guardians this spring. A team with a new manager, coming off a disappointing season, barely made a splash in the offseason. 

Quite understandable to overlook. And yet, the Guardians are the second-best team in baseball: 

  • Ken mentioned the leap in offense — this team finished 27th in runs scored last year, but sits second this year. They’re top-10 as a team in home runs, led by José Ramírez (16) and Josh Naylor (15). Both are top-10 in individual HR numbers, too.
  • Zack Meisel dove deeper into the numbers earlier this week, and came away with some staggering stats: Cleveland is 27-1 when leading after six innings, a tribute to a bullpen that’s wildly overachieving. They have the best bullpen ERA in baseball (2.54). 

All of this comes despite losing multiple stars for long stretches. Ace Shane Bieber and reliever Trevor Stephan have already had Tommy John surgeries this year. Steven Kwan (hitting .353) has not played since May 4. Cleveland is 16-7 in his absence.

I didn’t even get to talk about David Fry, who’s hitting .357 and, as Zack noted, is having one of the best offensive starts in franchise history. This guy hit .238 last year. 

Read Zack’s story for more mind-boggling stats from Cleveland. And maybe watch a few more Guardians games going forward.

Watch This Game

NHL: Panthers at Rangers
8 p.m. ET on ESPN
The days of simultaneous playoff games in multiple sports are drawing to a close. We should cherish them. This 2-2 series has been so, so good. Home ice has not mattered too much either, which makes it all the more unpredictable. 

NBA: Mavericks at Timberwolves
8:30 p.m. ET on TNT
This is, without hyperbole, a massive moment in franchise history for Minnesota. Do they get off the mat again to force a Game 6? A win here takes their franchise trajectory from “oh, maybe they’ll be back” to “they’ll probably definitely be back, and they might even be alive in this series after going down 3-0.” Pressure will be immense. Wolves are favored tonight.

Get tickets to games like these here.

Pulse Picks

Fernando Tatis Jr. was once the next face of baseball. Then he was a steroid user. Now, still just 25 years old, Tatis is almost back to his old self — and is having more fun than ever. Brittany Ghiroli has a great story on Tatis’ long road back from suspension and shame

Even for one of the two richest leagues in college football, the NCAA’s new reality will demand budget overhauls. Seth Emerson has an interesting report from the SEC’s spring meetings, where financial cuts are the main topic

Trevor Lawrence could still become a superstar quarterback. So what’s holding him back?

Stephen J. Nesbitt delved further into yesterday’s historic news about Negro Leagues statistics integrating with MLB’s database. This is such a massive, impactful thing. 

Most-clicked in the newsletter yesterday: Our feature on DeMeco Ryans and the Texans. The hype is astronomical. 

Most-read on the website yesterday: Wayne Rooney’s account of playing golf with former President Donald Trump. There were snipers in the bushes.

Sign up for our other newsletters:

The Bounce 🏀 | The Windup | Full Time | The Athletic FC | Prime Tire 🏁 | Until Saturday 🏈 | Scoop City 🏈

(Photo: Screenshot courtesy of EA Sports)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top