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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. Jameis Winston's accuser reveals identity in documentary


    The woman who accused former Florida State star Jameis Winston of rape has identified herself and told her story publicly for the first time in a new documentary.

    Erica Kinsman details her account in The Hunting Ground, a film that premiered Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. The Tampa Bay Times does not generally name victims or possible victims of sexual assault but is doing so now because Kinsman has identified herself publicly....

    Florida State QB Jameis Winston. [Getty Images] 
  2. NFL Mock Draft Monday: Jameis Winston? Marcus Mariota? Someone else?


    The Bucs are on the clock for another 94 days (and counting), so I’m going to try a weekly feature: Mock Draft Monday....

  3. 2015 Florida State Seminoles recruiting update


    Florida State

    KEY LOSSES: DB Ronald Darby, DE Mario Edwards Jr., OL Cameron Erving, DT Eddie Goldman, WR Rashad Greene, G Tre' Jackson, TE Nick O'Leary, RB Karlos Williams, DB P.J. Williams, QB Jameis Winston


    Brian BellLB6-2/218Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes
    Abdul BelloOT6-6/295Montverde Academy
    Deondre FrancoisQB6-1/195IMG Academy
    Johnny FrasierRB5-10/229Princeton (N.C.)
    Sh'mar Kilby-LaneLB6-1/209Hallandale
    Kai LocksleyATH6-3/188Baltimore Gilman
    Tarvarus McFaddenCB6-2/198Plantation American Heritage
    Cole MinshewG6-6/319Douglas (Ga.) Coffee
    Nyqwan MurrayWR5-10/163Orlando Oak Ridge
    Lorenzo PhillipsLB6-3/230East Mississippi C.C.
    David RobbinsG6-5/305Glenelg (Md.)
    Auden TateWR6-4/215Wharton
    Darvin TaylorDT6-2/295Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale
    A.J. WestbrookS6-0/173Daytona Beach Mainland
    Jalen WilkersonTE6-4/227Douglas (Ga.) Coffee

  4. 5 observations as NASCAR season approaches

    Auto racing

    TAMPA — With the Daytona 500 less than a month away, NASCAR sent three of its Sprint Cup series drivers to Tampa during a promotion for the season-opening race.

    Brad Keselowski, the 2012 series champion and last year's most controversial driver, attended a Lightning game last week. Three-time champion Tony Stewart and rookie of the year Kyle Larson stopped by MacDill Air Force Base for a USO tour Tuesday....

    Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison, left, gives Brad Keselowski a Lightning jersey during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion’s visit to Tampa.
  5. Sunday's NFL conference championship games


  6. Shrine Game gives Anthony Chickillo another chance to shine at Trop


    ST. PETERSBURG — The last time Anthony Chickillo played at Tropicana Field, he ended up as a star among stars.

    Then a five-star defensive end at Alonso High, Chickillo was the most valuable player of the Under Armour All-America Game. He outshined the country's top recruit, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, by recording four tackles, 1½ sacks and a fumble recovery in the high school all-star game victory....

    Former Alonso defensive end Anthony Chickillo followed his father and grandfather to Miami.
  7. Lightning tops Oilers

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — After the Lightning mustered only 10 shots through two sluggish periods Thursday night, coach Jon Cooper asked Ondrej Palat and the rest of his team to stop passing up good looks.

    "It's a good thing he listened," Cooper said.

    Palat scored twice in the third period to give the Lightning a 3-2 win over the Oilers in front of 18,609 at Amalie Arena. By avoiding a three-game slide, the Lightning (28-14-4) secured its sixth consecutive home win and its first of the season when it trailed heading into the third....

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov (89), left, and Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz (19) tangle near the Edmonton crease during the second period of Thursday's (1/15/15) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Edmonton Oilers at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  8. Injured Tyler Johnson returns for Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Though C Tyler Johnson wore a red, no-contact jersey during Thursday's morning skate, neither he nor Lightning coach Jon Cooper formally ruled out a return that night — and with good reason, apparently. Johnson was back in the lineup against the Oilers after missing one game with a lower-body injury.

    "I kind of had to work for that," Johnson said.

    He entered the game leading the team with 46 points and was second in the league in plus-minus, behind linemate Nikita Kucherov. It was unclear whether Johnson would be able to play in his first All-Star Game on Jan. 25. Johnson said he would leave decisions about his plans for the break up to the Lightning's medical staff....

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) on the ice against the Buffalo Sabres during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Friday evening (01/09/15).
  9. Tyler Johnson returns for Tampa Bay Lightning


    The Lightning never formally ruled forward Tyler Johnson out for Thursday’s game – with good reason, apparently....

  10. Mike Singletary expects East team to shine at Shrine Game


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mike Singletary has been to many NFL draft showcase games since he got into coaching 12 years ago, but he'll put his East team in Saturday's East-West Shrine Game up against any he has seen.

    "In all honesty, this is the best group of kids I've seen at an all-star game since I've been coaching, and I'm including the Senior Bowl," said the Pro Football Hall of Famer and former 49ers coach. "There are so many kids out here that are impressive, that have high ceilings."...

    Georgia Tech receiver Darren Waller, right, has impressed his East team coach, Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary.
  11. Heisman winner Marcus Mariota says he's going to the NFL



    Marcus Mariota is no longer a Duck. Now is he headed to the Bucs?

    Oregon's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback announced Wednesday that he would forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL draft. • "I will always remember the great times and support I received," Mariota, 21, said in a statement. "Once a Duck always a Duck." • Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston are regarded as the draft's top two quarterback prospects, and both are potential Bucs targets with the No. 1 overall pick. • The 6-foot-4, 211-pound Mariota led Oregon to the national title game during his junior season. He finished his college career with 105 touchdown passes, 14 interceptions, more than 2,000 rushing yards and almost 11,000 passing yards. • His former college coach, Chip Kelly, declined to talk about Mariota while scouting the East-West Shrine Game at St. Petersburg High because Kelly could end up as Mariota's professional coach, too, with the Eagles. • Mariota's former college teammate, linebacker Tony Washington, said he has no doubts Mariota can become a starting NFL quarterback. • "I feel like he has no reason to stay in college," Washington said after Shrine practice. "He did everything he could to get us to the top … • "He's the greatest player I've ever seen."...

    Marcus Mariota won every major award he qualified for, starting with the Heisman Trophy, as well as AP Player of the Year and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year.  [Getty Images]
  12. Lightning settling into 'right' groove

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness said there aren't any special secrets to a successful road trip.

    "There's no way to play on the road or play at home," Bowness said. "There's the right way to play, regardless of where you are."

    Bowness believes the Lightning has finally started to play that way consistently.

    The Lightning enters tonight's game at Philadelphia with seven wins in its past eight games. As important, it is only six days removed from a strong 3-1-0 road trip....

    Captain Steven Stamkos says he hopes a recent 3-1-0 road trip built confidence.
  13. Ben Zobrist stunned but thankful for time with Rays

    The Heater

    Ben Zobrist heard plenty of trade rumors about his future with the Rays over the past few months.

    That still didn't prepare him for Saturday, when president of baseball operations Matt Silverman made the call he said he hoped he would never have to make to deliver the news Zobrist never wanted to hear.

    A day after he and shortstop Yunel Escobar were traded to Oakland for catcher/DH John Jaso and two prospects, Zobrist was still coming to terms with the fact that his nine-year career with the Rays was over....

    Ben Zobrist, who had been a centerpiece of a Rays team that had reached the postseason four times since 2008, says he appreciates having been a part of that transformation.