“Microstras”: My Adventure Playing Xbox with Stephen Strasburg

IMG_3248Have you ever wondered what its like to play Xbox with Nationals fireballer (and famous gamer) Stephen Strasburg?  I was lucky enough to be one of the few Nats fans to have this cool experience when I went to the Microsoft Store opening at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda on November 22.  Two hundred lucky fans were allowed to take on Strasburg as part of the grand opening celebration, and Microsoft gave me a press pass to cover the event, interview Strasburg, and play game against him on Xbox.

The Microsoft Store chose the game.  We played Kinect Sports Rivals, a game that allows you to choose from a selection of sports game. The cool thing about Kinect is that you use your body to control the action, not a controller.  Stras and I played bowling. Here’s no surprise: he was very competitive.  I saw him throw down perfect strikes to kids younger than me.  That, too is no surprise, that Strasburg can throw strikes.

Strasburg was so fun to play against.  It was awesome to see the determination and effort he put into every game he played with the fans.  But here’s the surprising part of my day – I pulled out an unexpected win against him! He is well-known to be a huge fan of video games, so I was totally expecting that I would go in and lose big against him.

Stephen Strasburg and I "bowling" in a game of Kinect Sports Rivals on Xbox One.

Stephen Strasburg and I “bowling” in a game of Kinect Sports Rivals on Xbox One.

It made me feel so good to win. I definitely didn’t expect it! Stephen took the loss pretty well.  If you ever find your self playing Stras in Xbox, here’s a tip  – just stay calm. I did, and I won.

I asked him what skills video games can teach that can be useful in baseball and in life.  “Being able to talk to each other and collaborate and work together as a unit,” he said.  “Playing Call of Duty, playing online with my buddies, people I’ve played on teams with in the past, you have to rely on communication and teamwork to go out there and not get destroyed.”

I was really lucky we didn’t play Call Of Duty or some other action game Strasburg usually plays because then I definitely would have lost.  Strasburg definitely would have had the advantage if we played a driving game too.  I once played Forza 5 – I’ll just say that I owed a lot to the fake body shop.

In past seasons, Strasburg has brought his game system on the road with him.  “Last year I didn’t bring it. We have a little girl now and once you have kids you don’t play games as much. But before, I’d play games with the other players. We would play Tiger Woods… I hope there’s another PGA game coming out this year.”


The Bethesda Microsoft Store showed their dedication to the area by making technology grants to organizations like the Wounded Warriors Foundation, the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase, the National 4-H Council, and the Imagination Stage, and others.  The store has a variety of Windows 8.1 laptops, desktops, tablets, Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles, games, controllers, and Kinect sensors, Microsoft smart bands, and Windows phones with a improved camera and Cortana. photo4

Earlier that morning. they cut the ribbon and officially opened the store for business.  I happened to be the first non-Microsoft worker to set foot in the new store, which I think is amazing.

I took advantage of the store opening special to buy myself an Xbox 360 using my allowance money from taking in and out the trash cans each week.  They had Xboxes and Toshiba tablets on sale for only $99 that day!  Even at full price, the 4GB Xbox 360 costs only $199, and Microsoft’s newest system, Xbox One, is $399 (although both are on sale for the holidays).  I included them on my 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Kids.  Microsoft Store manager Tiffany Traynum explained why the Xbox One makes a great gift for kids: “First of all, Kinect. You can also play online with your friends. You can access social media like Facebook. You can access your One Drive. You can even search the internet on Xbox One, so I think that makes it a wonderful gift for kids.”

Also as part of the store opening celebration, there were lots of raffle prizes.  Some people won an Xbox One, a Jambox, and lots of gift cards to the Microsoft Store.  I was lucky enough to win the one thing I wanted most: a signed Stephen Strasburg baseball!  Stras signed it right smack on the sweet spot!

It was an amazing way to open the Microsoft Store at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Definitely check it out next time you are in the area, although hanging out with Stephen Strasburg is not guaranteed to happen again!


 If you’re still deciding what to buy the kids in your life for the holidays, check out my 2014 Holiday Gift Guide https://mattsbats.com/2014/11/26/black-friday-holiday-gift-guide-for-2014-slash-2015/.  I wrote it myself, so kids will definitely like it.  Also, I am giving away a lot of cool products.  The first round of giveaways is here: https://mattsbats.com/2014/11/28/giveaways-from-my-2014-holiday-gift-guide-for-kids/ and there are more to come!

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  1. My “2015” NatsFest Review « Matt's Bats

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