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.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.