Thursday, June 21, 2018


Matt Baker, Times staff writer

Matt Baker, Times staff writer

Matt Baker joined the Times as a sports reporter in 2011. In 2014, he started covering the Bucs, Rays and Lightning. He previously covered high school and college sports for the Tulsa World and minor league baseball for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. His work has been honored by the Best American Sports Writing series and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is a Hoosier native and graduated from Northwestern University in 2008.

Mike White's Florida Gators will open the upcoming season at Florida State. [ OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times  ]

Florida State will host Florida Gators to open this basketball season

For the first time in almost two decades, Florida and Florida State will open the men's basketball season against each other.The Seminoles will host UF on Nov. 6, both programs announced Wednesday morning. FSU has won four in a row in...
Published: 06/20/18
Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson (seen here at Miami last season) has had his academic eligibility resolved and should be cleared to open at Florida State. [ MONICA HERNDON  |  Times ]

With starting QB Josh Jacksonís status resolved, FSU will open against full-strength Hokies

Florida State's primetime opener against Virginia Tech looks a little tougher now than it did a few days ago.Hokies starting quarterback Josh Jackson has had his academic eligibility resolved and remains on the team,
Published: 06/19/18
As USF expands its partnership with Yuengling, including the renaming of the Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center, alcohol remains less visible in the SEC ... for now. [ JIM DAMASKE  |  Times ]

As USF-Yuengling bond grows, is SECís alcohol stance slowly shifting?

USF's expanded partnership with Yuengling — including naming rights to the Sun Dome — is only the latest part...
Published: 06/18/18
The USF Sun Dome's new name: The Yeungling Center. (Jim Damaske | Times)

USF is renaming the Sun Dome for Yuengling. How much are those deals worth?

We don't yet know how much Yuengling is paying USF for the naming rights to the Sun Dome in a deal that was announced...
Published: 06/12/18
Florida State football coach Willie Taggart is on stage with another former Manatee High product, FSU defensive lineman Demarcus Christmas. They spoke less than 10 miles south of the Manatee High stadium where Taggart first burst onto the scene. [ ANDRES LEIVA   |   Special to the Times ]

When Willie Taggart filled in for Tommie Frazier at Manatee High

It would have been easy — expected, even — for Willie Taggart to be nervous when he started in place of the injured Tommie Frazier as Manatee High's starting quarterback in 1991.Nope. Taggart wasn't, even though he...
Published: 06/12/18
Florida State Head Coach Willie Taggart is seen speaking to reporters before the Seminole Rally at the Mertz Theatre in Sarasota, Fla.. [ ANDRES LEIVA   |   Special to the Times ]

FSU football coach Willie Taggart gets local heroís welcome

SARASOTA — He slithered and scrambled his way into the local consciousness in the fall of 1991.Manatee High's Willie Taggart, 145 pounds in a sopping jersey, suddenly found himself with the keys to the Hurricanes' ruthlessly...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18
Florida Gators fans will have a new player to watch this fall: West Virginia grad transfer Adam Shuler. [ MONICA HERNDON  |  Times ]

Florida Gators add West Virginia grad transfer Adam Shuler

Former West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler announced Monday that he plans to join the Gators as a graduate transfer.Shuler, a 6-foot-4, 268-pound Longwood native, started 10 games for the Mountaineers last season. As a redshirt...
Published: 06/11/18

Rays lose eighth in a row, 4-3 to Seattle Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG — Regardless of how well the Rays' starting/opening pitcher experiment goes, their success depends on getting help elsewhere.It didn't happen enough Friday night at Tropicana Field.Four missed...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/09/18
The Rays' Christian Arroyo, a former Hernando High standout, belts his first home run for his hometown team on Friday, June 8, 2018, at Tropicana Field. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Times]

Matt Bakerís takeaways from Fridayís Rays-Mariners game

The Rays' razor-thin margin for error magnifies every potential miscue, such as in the third inning, when speedy Mallex Smith stayed at third despite being waved home. Matt Duffy struck out two batters later to strand...
Published: 06/08/18
Outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said he hopes to begin a rehab assignment next week that could have him back in a Rays uniform around June 20. [ JIM DAMASKE  |  Times ]

Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier, Adeiny Hechavarria nearing returns

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays got a double dose of good injury news Friday when CF Kevin Kiermaier and SS Adeiny Hechavarria both said they hoped to start rehab assignments early next week.Hechavarria (right hamstring strain) has...
Published: 06/08/18