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Robin Williams 1951-2014. Depression is no joke.

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Robin Williams, man.

There’s no baseball connection here, though I suppose there could be if I stretched it. How about this: my favorite Robin Williams performance of all time came in the 1994 episode of “Homicide: Life on the Street” entitled “Bop Gun.” In it he plays a father and husband who is visiting Baltimore with his family. They just took in an Orioles game at Camden Yards. While leaving the stadium a stickup man approaches them and Williams’ wife is murdered right in front of him and his children.

A big-name star like Williams — and at the time he was as big as he’d ever be, I’d reckon — could have viewed that role as one in which he was doing a favor to a struggling show. He could have just showed up, hit all of the cliche grieving crime-victim notes, cashed his check and been done with it. But he didn’t. He had the courage to play his character as, actually, something of an unlikable figure. A guy whose guilt and shock over what happened caused him to actually be a problem for the detectives who were investigating his wife’s death. It was uncomfortable to watch in places, but his refusal to simply play the sobbing, saintly widower rang very, very true. He got a well-deserved Emmy nomination for it. That’s one of my favorite shows of all time and I think of it an awful lot. Maybe because that episode started at a ballpark. Mostly, though, I think of it because Williams’ performance was daring, chilling, touching and thought-provoking.

We don’t really know the celebrities we see on the screen. We don’t know what makes them tick. We do know, however, that for as much joy and laughter as Robin Williams brought people, he himself suffered from crippling depression. Based on what we’re hearing about the circumstances of his death, it seems as though depression got the better of him.

Depression is no joke. It stalks its victims. Sometimes it plays with them, letting them go for a while, only to return to try to destroy them later. As a mental illness it gets overlooked and underestimated by many because, well, we just have messed up or under-informed attitudes in this country about mental illnesses. Because it can, outwardly, manifest itself as a mere bad mood or the blues we tend not to take it too seriously. We tell its sufferers to cheer up. We assume that, because they’re rich or famous or have good things in their lives, they somehow don’t have the “right” to be depressed. That they have a choice about whether to suffer from depression or not. A lot of people with depression feel that way, actually, which is why it so often goes untreated or undertreated.

It’s trite and pat to use a celebrity’s death as an inspiration for action, but it’s better than nothing, so I’ll say it anyway: if you are depressed or if you know someone who is, know that there is help out there. Try to get it or try to steer those who need it in that direction. You’d never self-treat or self-diagnose heart disease, cancer or anything else that could kill you, so don’t do it with depression either.

Orioles re-sign Paul Janish to minor league deal

SARASOTA, FL - FEBRUARY 28:  Paul Janish #15 of the Baltimore Orioles poses during photo day at Ed Smith Stadium on February 28, 2016 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Orioles signed free agent shortstop Paul Janish to another minor league deal on Saturday, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The contract includes an invite to spring training.

It’s hardly a surprising move for the Orioles, who have released and re-signed the 34-year-old infielder to multiple minor league deals over the past two years. A perennial Triple-A player, Janish slashed .242/.282/.303 with four doubles and a .585 OPS in two campaigns and 28 games with the Orioles. While he won’t be in line for a full-time role in the majors this season, he profiles as a solid defender and should give the team some infield depth alongside fellow veteran infielders Robert Andino, Johnny Giavotella and Chris Johnson.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.