Clear77° FULL FORECASTClear77° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page
Instagram

Matt Baker, Times Staff Writer

Matt Baker

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.

Phone: (727) 420-9087

Email: mbaker@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MBakerTBTimes

link
  1. Lightning: Game 4 reflections

    Lightning Strikes

    View from the other bench

    "It's best-of-three now. If you would have told us at the beginning of this series we could be in this position, we'd take it 10 out of 10 times."

    Detroit wing Justin Abdelkader

    Rookie debut

    Lightning LW Jonathan Drouin made his playoff debut in Game 4 on Thursday. He played in high-pressure situations coming up to the NHL and said the Stanley Cup playoffs are another step up and exactly what he expected. "Plays were made quicker," Drouin said. "Guys were going faster. It was definitely a different pace."...

  2. Lightning's Ben Bishop shakes off bad goal

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Lightning G Ben Bishop saw the clip, even if it won't make his personal highlight reel.

    He knew what happened when he gave up the Red Wings' second goal in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series Thursday, swatting the puck out of the air and inadvertently putting it in his net. The clip was one of ESPN's two nominees for its Worst of the Worst plays.

    "Just an unfortunate bounce," Bishop said Friday....

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop cannot stop the puck as it crosses the goal line off the stick of the Detroit Red Wings' Joakim Andersson in the second period of Game 4 during the first round of the NHL playoffs at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Thursday, April 23, 2015. (Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press/TNS) 1167096
  3. Analysis: Half of first-round NFL QBs turn out to be busts

    Bucs

    TAMPA — If months of mock draft are correct, the Bucs will begin the opening round of the NFL draft Thursday by choosing either Florida State's Jameis Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota with the No. 1 overall pick.

    And if more than a quarter century's worth of quarterback data prove right, one of them will fail.

    From the historic 1983 draft class through 2009, teams drafted 34 quarterbacks in the top 10. Half of them were busts, and less than one third became stars, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis. Even with a sea of statistics, scouting remains an inexact science; it's hard to predict who will become the next Peyton Manning, and who will become another Ryan Leaf....

    Marcus Mariota, left, and Jameis Winston, right. [Getty Images, Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT]
  4. What's at stake for Bucs in NFL draft?

    Bucs

    A look at some previous quarterbacks taken No. 1 overall

    2007: JaMarcus Russell, Oakland Raiders

    Oakland chose Jimbo Fisher's strong-armed quarterback from LSU over Notre Dame's Brady Quinn and a group of skill players that included Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch.

    What happened next? Russell made only 25 starts before Oakland released him in May 2010. Concerns over his work ethic and weight (and a drug arrest) have kept him out of the league. The Raiders have averaged five wins per season since drafting him and are candidates to move to Los Angeles....

    JaMarcus Russell made only 25 starts before Oakland released him in May 2010. [AP photo]
  5. Jameis Winston: Publix gave me free food

    Blog

    Former Florida State star quarterback Jameis Winston said he received free food from Publix, which led to his shoplifting citation last year and could be a violation of NCAA rules.

    On an ESPN "Draft Academy" special, Winston talks with Michigan coach (and former NFL head coach) Jim Harbaugh about his off-the-field issues. Winston was asked to explain why he was caught shoplifting seafood from Publix....

    Former Florida State star quarterback Jameis Winston said he received free food from Publix, which led to his shoplifting citation last year and could be a violation of NCAA rules.
  6. Mel Kiper Jr.: Jameis Winston to Bucs isn't etched in stone

    Blog

    ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said he doesn't think the Bucs can use the No. 1 pick in next week's NFL draft on anyone other than a quarterback.

    But Kiper isn't sure which one in it should, or will, be.

    "It's not etched in stone that Winston's going 1 and Mariota's going 2," Kiper said today in a conference call with reporters.

    Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota are the consensus top two quarterback prospects. Kiper said he expects them to go first and second in the draft....

    ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said he doesn't think the Bucs can use the No. 1 pick in next week's NFL draft on anyone other than a quarterback.
  7. Rays: Kacey Musgraves added to concert series

    The Heater

    Concert add

    The Rays announced that budding country music star Kacey Musgraves will join the summer concert series. She's scheduled to perform on Saturday, July 25, after the Rays host Baltimore.

    Numbers of the day

    .425 Home winning percentage since the start of the 2014 season

    .609 Home winning percentage from 2008-13

    Rays vs. Red Sox

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field...

    Kacey Musgraves’ follow-up to her major-label debut is expected out by the summer.
  8. Red Sox prove tough matchup for Rays' Chris Archer

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Chris Archer can't point to one or two reasons why he has struggled at times against the Red Sox.

    He enters today's start 1-4 with a 6.03 ERA in seven career starts against Boston; against the rest of the league, Archer is 21-16 with an ERA half that (3.01).

    "It's hard to say, man," Archer said. "I've had a couple outings where I do well and a couple outings where I just don't execute pitches. They have multiple guys in their lineup who can hurt you, just like every other team in the American League East."...

    Rays starter Chris Archer has a 6.03 ERA in seven career starts against the AL East rival Red Sox, a 3.01 ERA against everyone else.
  9. Mock Draft Monday: Jameis Winston ahead with pundits, behind in poll

    Blog

    The tenure of Mock Draft Monday is nearly over. Which is fine, because I’m running out of unique ways to say that every pundit I track still thinks the Bucs will take Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston No. 1 overall. ...

    Jameis Winston warms up before the Seminoles' Nov. 2 game against the Miami Hurricanes at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.
  10. Would Hueytown residents draft Jameis Winston (and more story extras)

    Blog

    When I spent a few days in Hueytown, Ala. last month to talk about Jameis Winston, I ended my interviews the same way: If you were the Bucs’ GM, and your job depended on this decision, knowing everything you know about Winston…would you take him with the No. 1 overall pick? ...

    A plaque in a main hallway of Jameis Winston's former high school in Hueytown, Ala.
  11. Rays manager Cash: Balfour handled decision like a pro

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Kevin Cash experienced another difficult career first Saturday night: telling a veteran he was being designated for assignment.

    Cash said RH reliever Grant Balfour handled the news professionally as the Rays took a step toward Balfour's likely release and eating what's left of his $7 million salary.

    "Very difficult decision with Grant, just because of what he's meant for the organization and the way he's pitched here in a lot of big games, big moments for this organization," Cash said. "It was kind of out of need for our team going forward. We were getting a little short. We need innings. Where we're at with some injuries and situations like that, that was kind of the deciding factor."...

    Grant Balfour struggled since rejoining the Rays last season.
  12. Rays honor slain Tarpon Springs police officer

    The Heater

    Today: off

    Next game: vs. Red Sox, 7:10 Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    Probable pitchers: Rays — RH Chris Archer (2-1, 1.37); Red Sox — TBA

    In memory

    The Rays honored Tarpon Springs Police Officer Charles Kondek with a moment of silence before the game. Kondek was killed in the line of duty Dec. 21. The club also retired his official radio call sign, 285 — the fourth such honor the team has given to fallen police officers....

  13. Rays fall behind early, get swept by Yankees (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays starter Matt Andriese said Sunday could have been a great bounceback day.

    He could have proven that, with a normal routine, he can pitch deep into games, and his team could have salvaged a win against a Yankees team that entered the three-game series last in the AL East.

    Neither happened.

    Andriese's outing was even shorter than his first, and the Rays were hitless with runners in scoring position in a 5-3 loss at Tropicana Field. A New York team that entered 3-6 swept the Rays (6-7), who have lost four of their past five and five of six at home....

    Rays manager Kevin Cash takes the ball from Matt Andriese in the fourth inning after a rough second start for the rookie.
  14. Kevin Cash on Grant Balfour DFA

    Blog

    Manager Kevin Cash said veteran reliever Grant Balfour took Saturday night’s news that he was being designated for assignment well, but the move was necessary because the Rays needed more success in the bullpen.

    “Very difficult decision with Grant, just because of what he’s meant for the organization and the way he’s pitched here in a lot of big games, big moments for this organization,” Cash said.  “It was kind of out of need for our team going forward. We were getting a little short. We need innings. Where we’re at with some injuries and situations like that, that was kind of the deciding factor.”...

  15. For starters, Rays vs. Yankees

    Blog

    UPDATE, 11:17: CF Kevin Kiermaier isn’t in the lineup for a second consecutive day. He was sick Saturday but said he’s available to play.

    RHP Brandon Gomes had a jersey in his locker, but I didn’t see him in the clubhouse. He was called up from Triple-A Durham after veteran reliever Grant Balfour was designated for assignment....