Travel and Arrival
I went to bed around 11:30 PM on Wednesday night. A few hours later I dragged my son out of bed and left our place a little after 3:00 AM on Thursday morning. After a quick drive-thru breakfast and a stop to fill the cooler with ice to get trip beverages and snacks cold, my son and I embarked on our very first trip to the Big Apple. We made a quick stop in Barberton, OH for an ATM and some gas. The lack of sleep was wearing on me so I had to stop at a rest area in Reynoldsville, PA for about an hour nap. When my son and I went to use the restroom, there was an aspiring musician in the foyer of the rest area building who was belting out some lyrics with an acoustic accompaniment. I thought it was pretty good, but the man cleaning the restrooms said he was too loud and kicked him out. They got into an altercation outside. That was our cue to get back on the road. Dolan did pretty good on the road. We only stopped when necessary. The iPad kept him busy and he pulled the frequent hour-at-a-time naps.
Traveling through eastern Pennsylvania was a treat. I have seen the Appalachian Mountains many times as I have family in western Pennsylvania, but eastern Pennsylvania is where it is at for scenery on a long drive. The trees all turned every variant shade of red, orange, yellow, and green as if they were perfectly blended in an painted masterpiece. All were stacked atop the towering mountains of the Appalachians on a side which I was unfamiliar with. At times we felt engulfed by them, but it felt so peaceful and the drive to Stroudsburg, PA was smooth and calm. While we were in Stroudsburg, we stopped for more gas. We grabbed a slice of brick oven pizza from a local pizza place attached to the gas station. It was great. I had a buffalo chicken ranch slice while Dolan had a traditional pepperoni.
This is where the travel gets dicey. I knew I was somewhat close to New York City. I hate large crowds and I hate traffic just as much. This is the person that travels 70 extra miles to avoid tolls and the Chicago Skyway on the way to Madison. Traffic started picking up in New Jersey, and it wasn't horrible, but the closer we got the more anxious I got. Once I saw the buildings I was nervous. Dolan was excited and pointing everything out, but my eyes couldn't veer too far from the road to look. Crossed the George Washington Bridge and paid a $14 toll. That's not a typo. Cars were packed like sardines, swerving in and out of traffic. I was praying to the big man upstairs that I wasn't going to wreck the rental car. I was also at the mercy of the GPS on my phone which kept sliding and falling from the dash. I paid another toll of the $8 variety to cross over into Queens. Then shit hit the fan. I got stuck in an intersection. Car horns and finger gestures ensued like a well conducted orchestra. I am trying to nudge into the correct lane changes. After an hour and forty minutes we finally arrived at the hotel in Queens. I unpacked the car and crawled into the hotel room like a hermit crab and not prepared to go back out until the next day. I played four practice games with Dolan. Most of which he held his own. James Brooks got off in one and he had no chance.
James Brooks 9 carries for 448 yards
Friday and Sight-seeing
On Friday morning we indulged in some continental breakfast and left to meet Brian Rausse at a subway station. On the way, I suddenly realize I left my belt back in Indianapolis. My jeans are falling off my hips and I am constantly grabbing and pulling them back up. Knowing I would be walking somewhere between 10-15 miles to do sight-seeing in New York, I stopped some electricians on the road and asked them for zip-ties. I told them the story of how I used to use zip-ties for the saggy jeans of students and it was an effective way to keep them from sagging. Three zip-ties later, I was safe and we met up with Brian at the Queens Boulevard Subway Station. Brian took the day off work to take us around. Without him I would have been completely lost. He showed me the ropes on getting and using the MetroCard. Dolan soon found out what the poles were for on the subway. We went to Grand Central Station, saw the New York Public Library, Bryant Park, and then to Times Square. When I asked Dolan what he thought of New York, he replied, "It's so busy." Far cry from what we have in the Crossroads of America.
Tecmo Ninja owns an Italian restaurant. He was in Pizza Heaven. I feel like every corner store or stand he picked up a slice or wanted to stop. This was all on the way to the Mecca of Pizza, Lombardi's. Lombardi's is the oldest family owned and operated pizza restaurant in the U.S. It is the only pizzeria that has/still uses a coal oven to bake their pizza. Zagat surveys claims that Lombardi's is the best pizza on the planet. I will not dispute this. During this time we found out that Louis (red98sethuthut) made it to the Big Apple, but his car broke down. Louis was staying with Dolan and I at the hotel, but at this time there was no way to get to him. I felt bad.
Next morning, Dolan wakes up early and plays Louis. Both games were relatively close. We packed up all our equipment and got a free Uber ride to the venue (thanks to my brother Kevin). Break Bar and Billiards had great space and a good set up for Tecmo. I set up the stream on my laptop and helped set up equipment.
Dolan's Group Play
Second game was against Erik Merliss (last year's runner up). I didn't get to see most of the game as I was playing, but Erik was up 14-10 with 2 minutes and change. He scored a late TD to win 21-10 in the PHX (Erik) vs DAL (Dolan) matchup. I asked Erik how Dolan played and he said he played well.
Third game Dolan found out what Tecmo is all about. Someone told me he lost three fumbles. He also threw a couple of picks with BJ. His opponent cruised to an easy win with the Broncos. Dolan scored his first TD late in the game. After getting the ball back I instructed him to kick a FG at the buzzer so his opponent would't get the 28 point maximum. He lost 35-10.
Daddy's Group Play
First game was against Ryan H. Same Ryan vogtcd11 and I spoke with on Tecmo Talk Radio. I was thinking he lived in Wisconsin so when he told me he lived in New York, it threw me off. He called MIA vs. S.D. No hesitation for me here. I have learned to quit thinking with my heart and start playing Tecmo with my head. I took the Dolphins. I ran early and often. Smith and some descent carries. Logan chipped in as well. Dan operated the quick passes. Chargers scooped a fumble return for a TD and had another really nice TD drive as well.
Raffles, Raffles, and Raffles
Art Work I Won: http://8bitproverbs.com/prints/collectors-pack-1
Dolan's Elimination Bracket
Daddy's Elimination Bracket
Group winners and top finishers got byes in this tournament set up. By being the top four seeds you automatically made the sweet 16. My first game was against Joe B. of Philadelphia. I also scouted this guy. Pass, pass, and more pass. I called pass plays 100% of the game. He called N.E. vs. SEA. I took SEA. I controlled the game by calling plays he didn't. I felt like this was one game I had total control over. His only offensive score game on a ghosted triple coverage dive catch. I was up 21-7 with just under 3 minutes to go in the game. I was running and short passing near out of bounds every play. I fumbled a short pass near the out of bounds line which was returned for a score making it 21-14. Then I do the same thing. I was fully confident in sealing the deal, but after I ran out of bounds the ball fumbled and bounced back into play. He drops back for a three-quarter field JJ. He got it at the one and I out-tapped him to avoid over-time. Unbelievable how well I played to almost lose my first game.
The championship game was set. Shawn won the toss and called CLE vs. PIT. This is a matchup I was actually ok with. Matty V. once told me that it was unfair because the Steelers were so much better. I also have my second highest OG win percentage with the Steelers. After my game with D.T. we were forced to move the system, TV, and, laptop to a different location because of the Mets game. During this switch my capture card fried and we were unable to to stream straight from the NES. So, we took the HD webcam that was originally used to video the competitors, and we turned it to view the game play on the screen. Here is the championship in its entirety:
2nd place: Shawn S.
3rd place: David T.
4th place: Erik M.
Return Home and Conclusion
The next morning Dolan and I left around 10:45 AM. Traffic wasn't nearly as bad on the way home. Stopped and ate at a Dutch Pantry in Clearfield, PA. Listened to the Colts vs. Patriots game on the radio. Got to hear the worst play call of all-time and then the memes and social media about it the following day. We got back home safely around 1:15 AM.
I originally had no plans to come to NYC. My wife, son, and I had been planning a family vacation to Disney for the past several months. A day before we were supposed to leave my wife had to cancel the trip. I won't go into detail, but she is very sick right now. It has put quite the stress on our family and myself. I would ask that you keep my family in your prayers or thoughts moving forward during this difficult time. When my son found out we canceled, he was devastated. This was his birthday present a month prior, so I told him anywhere he's always wanted to go was fair game. His first place he said was NYC. I said deal. After jumping online, I realized that Saturday was the weekend of the NYC Tecmo tournament. It made sense to me that we should play if we were going to be there anyway. When I found out how excited he was about participating it got me excited to go.
The fact that I got to share this time-honored tradition with my son is indescribable. I realize that he only plays because it gives him something in common with his dad. I realize that some people in the tournament felt like a catch 22 when playing him. If they beat him they are "picking on the little guy" and if they lose to him then they feel embarrassed. The fact of the matter is that Dolan does have talent. No one should take it easy on him. I beat him bad all the time. I never "let him win". That teaches him nothing. He's learned a lot the past four years about the game. I am astonished how fast he picked up things that took me years to understand on my own. With that said, I am a hundred times more happy and proud that he played and won some games than me winning this tournament. The expression on his face was priceless. He isn't clinically diagnosed, but I am positive he lives with social anxiety. This was a huge step for Bubby and it is one of my proudest moments as a father.
To Brian, Ryan, and all the other people involved with NETSBA, thank you. Quality tournament, with a great venue, and overall experience. I love the format, the byes to reward the group winners, and the raffles. This was my first NETSBA tournament and it won't be my last. It ranks up there with Madison and Midwest in my book. Nice work as always.
To Shawn, the championship game was Tecmo at its finest. I am sure it provided get entertainment for those watching even if it didn't live up to the Mets game being displayed behind the TV. I'm glad it came down to us. Great run.
I couldn't have asked for a better Tecmocation. Dolan got to see the biggest city in America thanks to Brian. These memories will live with him for a lifetime. I snagged a sealed copy of Tecmo Super Bowl which only leaves me the Tecmo Super Bowl Prototype cartridge to have a "complete" collection. I got a chance to have the greatest pizza on the planet. Dolan and I cleaned house on the raffles at the tournament. I took home another trophy in 2015 (four) even though I broke the hand of the football player. I have since super glued it back on. I had the opportunity to share this great hobby with all of you in attendance and those of watching from a far. Last, but importantly, not least, I got to share an extended weekend with my son to further develop a bond with him as he grows older. What a vacation!
Until next time, Long Live Tecmo.