Some thoughts as I realize the fall sports season is only a few weeks away. …

• There was no moment of silence to remember John Winkin before the American Legion baseball playoff game between Franklin County and Westbrook on Saturday morning.

That’s OK. Since Winkin died a week ago at the age of 94, volumes have been said and written about him. Winkin coached college baseball in Maine for more than half a century, first at Colby College, then at the University of Maine, where he led the Black Bears to unprecedented success, and finally Husson University.

Winkin taught the game to generations of Mainers, convincing them all that being from Maine, where fielding grounders inside and taking swings in a batting cage passes for baseball more than half the frigid year, isn’t a reason to play the game poorly. When the Black Bears were making a trip to Omaha and the College World Series — an annual event in the early 1980s — they did it with a ton of homegrown talent.

It’s just a bittersweet coincidence that the first American Legion baseball state tournament after the death of John Winkin is at the field that bares his name. You can’t attend a game at that field without thinking of him. On Saturday, the Winkin Complex hosted a pair of play-in games to fill two spots in the double-elimination portion of the tournament, which begins Wednesday. On Saturday night, the Zone 1 American Legion tournament continued at the Winkin Complex.

A moment of silence, while respectful, would not do justice to Winkin’s life. They honored Winkin the best way possible, the way he’d prefer to be honored.

They played baseball.

• Here’s hoping the trade of Jake Peavy is just the first move in a busy week for the Boston Red Sox.

The 2014 playoffs are a pipe dream. This year’s version of the Red Sox reminds me of the 1987 model. That team started the season full of veterans who made a deep playoff run the previous season (we all know how October 1986 ended and there’s no sense in tearing off that mental band-aid here) only to fall apart a season later.

The 1987 Red Sox were 13.5 games out of first place at the All-Star break. Old veterans like Don Baylor and Bill Buckner were let go. Throughout the second half of the season, young players like Mike Greenwell, Ellis Burks, Todd Benzinger, Sam Horn and John Marzano were in the lineup a lot. Greenwell, Burks and Benzinger each played at least 120 games in 1988, helping the Red Sox win the American League East.

Now, you have a similar situation. The Red Sox have a lot of young guys who have to play, if only to see if they can play. Will Brock Holt, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian Vazquez become core guys who become key players in a 2015 playoff run, or will they be more like Horn, who never saw a breaking pitch he could hit and fade away? Will Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa become reliable starting pitchers?

Only one way to find out. Jettison some more old guys (Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli, I’m looking at you) and play the kids.

• Maybe I’m naive, but I’m very encouraged by Rob Gronkowski’s early return to the practice field. When he hurt his knee late last season against the Cleveland Browns, I thought we wouldn’t see Gronk on the field for the Patriots until at least Halloween.

There’s still a chance he comes along slowly, but my hunch is Gronk is back in Week 1 at Miami and is an important offensive weapon all season for the Patriots.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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