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


Twitter: @MBakerTBTimes

  1. Florida State 'finds an excuse to win' over Notre Dame


    TALLAHASSEE — Even when No. 2 Florida State trailed No. 5 Notre Dame in the second half Saturday night, the Seminoles' faith in themselves never wavered.

    With the longest winning streak in school history, why would it?

    "The Navy Seals have a saying for it: find an excuse to win," Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. "We find excuses to win."

    Saturday night, the excuse was this: The game was too close....

    Jameis Winston finishes 15-of-16 for 181 yards in the second half Saturday after going 8-of-15 for 92 yards in the first.
  2. FSU Seminoles rally past Notre Dame


    TALLAHASSEE — Through one half Saturday night, Notre Dame did what no big-name opponent or off-the-field controversy has done: rattle Jameis Winston.

    And then the second half started.

    Florida State's star quarterback was nearly flawless in the final two quarters, completing 15 of 16 passes for 182 yards and getting help with a controversial late call to lead No. 2 FSU to a 31-27 win over No. 5 Notre Dame at Doak Campbell Stadium....

    Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher hugs quarterback Jameis Winston, who “was phenomenal” in the game, Fisher says.
  3. FSU assistant coach misses Notre Dame game


    TALLAHASSEE — No. 2 Florida State entered Saturday night without one of its top assistants.

    Assistant head coach Rick Trickett wasn't at the game because of a health reason, the school announced before kickoff against No. 5 Notre Dame.

    Trickett, 66, has been at FSU since 2007 and is recognized as one of the top offensive line coaches in the game. All five starters on last year's team earned All-ACC honors, and he has coached 30 NFL players. One of his pupils, RG Tre' Jackson, has been named the ACC's offensive lineman of the week twice this season....

    DOWN HE GOES: Notre Dame QB Everett Golson, top is sacked by Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman in the first half.
  4. Florida State, Notre Dame set for showdown


    USF at Tulsa

    noon, H.A. Chapman Stadium

    TV/radio: ESPNews; 1010-AM, 98.7-FM

    Line: USF by 1½

    Weather: Partly cloudy, low to mid 60s, no chance of rain

    UCF vs. Tulane

    noon, Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando


    Line: UCF by 19½

    Weather: Sunny, low 80s, no chance of rain

    Florida vs. Missouri...

    Irish defensive lineman Bryant Young takes down Seminoles QB Charlie Ward in the teams’ epic meeting 21 years ago.
  5. Winston team cuts hearing judge; FSU says no proof yet of money for autographs


    Florida State's conduct hearing for star quarterback Jameis Winston inched forward Friday when Winston adviser David Cornwell eliminated one of three judges assigned to rule on whether Winston violated up to four parts of the school's code of conduct.

    Cornwell met Friday's deadline to schedule an information session to learn about the hearing's procedures and see evidence related to the sexual assault allegations made by a then-FSU student from the Tampa Bay area in December 2012....

    Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston warms up before the BCS title game in Pasadena, Calif.
  6. Peyton Manning nears Favre's TD record


    Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's latest career milestone could come tonight. He enters the game with 506 career touchdown passes and needs only two to tie Brett Favre for the most in NFL history. Even if he doesn't break the record in primetime against San Francisco, Manning will get another chance — on Thursday, against the Chargers. "I don't think anybody in here is on record watch," Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme told reporters in Denver. "It will be a real special moment when it happens, but it's not something we are in here talking about." But that doesn't mean we have to stop talking about it on the outside. Here's a closer look at Manning's 506 touchdown passes:...

    Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has thrown for 506 touchdowns, two away from tying Brett Favre’s career NFL record.
  7. Lightning sends Jonathan Drouin to minors for conditioning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Jonathan Drouin's NHL debut will have to wait.

    With the wing derailed during training camp by a fractured right thumb, the Lightning assigned its 2013 first-round draft pick to AHL Syracuse on Thursday to begin a rehabilitation assignment.

    "It's not really sending me down," Drouin said after Thursday morning's practice with the Lightning. "It's more getting me ready to come back here and making sure I'm 100 percent ready."...

    The Lightning assigned Jonathan Drouin to Syracuse on Thursday to begin a rehab assignment. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  8. The Lightning assigned Jonathan Drouin to Syracuse on Thursday to begin a rehab assignment.
  9. Blog

  10. Jets-Patriots Thursday night preview


    Tonight: Jets at Patriots

    When/where: 8:25; Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

    TV/radio: Ch. 10, NFL Network; 98.7-FM, 1010-AM

    Line/OU: Patriots by 9½; 45½

    New England QB Tom Brady is 6-0 on Thursday nights, which might be a completely meaningless stat. What does matter is his ankle, which limited him in practice this week but isn't expected to keep him out of the game. The Patriots are already shorthanded with RB Stevan Ridley (knee) out for the year. But Brady is coming off his best game of the season (361 yards, 4 TDs) and New York has the league's worst passing offense (182.2 yards per game). This could become another Thursday night blowout....

  11. Bucs' Jorvorskie Lane violates substance policy, suspended 2 games


    TAMPA — Bucs FB Jorvorskie Lane was suspended for two games without pay for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, the team announced Wednesday.

    Lane, the team's only fullback, had a 54-yard run in the season opener but has been used sparingly this season. In Sunday's lopsided loss to the Ravens, he played five offensive snaps.

    In a statement released through his agent, David Canter, Lane said his positive test was a result of an "over-the-counter medication to help my weight-loss efforts and, without my knowledge, it contained a banned substance. … ...

    Jorvorskie Lane, breaking free for a 54-yard run in the season opener against the Panthers, says he unknowingly took a banned substance that was in an over-the-counter medication.
  12. Victor Hedman moves toward elite status

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman revamped his offseason training a year ago to prepare for a strong start. He followed with a breakout season, ranking fifth in the league among defensemen in points (55) and tied for ninth in goals (13).

    Four games into the 2014-15 season, Hedman is faring even better and entered Wednesday tied for the league lead with seven points.

    "Sometimes good things happen," Hedman said....

    Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman leads the team with seven points (three goals) in the first four games.
  13. Bucs on pace to allow most points in NFL history


    TAMPA - The Bucs’ defensive woes – they’re last in the league in yards per game and scoring average – have been tough for linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson to watch....

  14. Q&A with the latest on Jameis Winston investigation


    The Jameis Winston saga took another twist Tuesday when his adviser sent a letter to Florida State University calling its investigative procedures "unacceptable."

    The letter — a copy of which was obtained by the Tampa Bay Times — is the latest step in the months-old sexual assault allegations against FSU's Heisman Trophy winning quarterback.

    To help explain the complex case, here's an analysis with some basic questions and answers:...

    Jameis Winston
  15. Jameis Winston's adviser continues to challenge FSU's investigation


    Jameis Winston's adviser continued to question how Florida State University is investigating the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in a letter sent to the school Tuesday.

    David Cornwell wrote that the school's latest deadlines and procedures in the investigation of months-old sexual assault allegations are "unacceptable." He made his latest claim in a letter obtained Tuesday afternoon by the Tampa Bay Times....

    Jameis Winston is accused of breaking four conduct code violations, including sexual conduct without consent. He has not been arrested or charged with a crime. [AP photo]