Yankees family comes together for Carlos SilvaRivera, Teixeira among Bombers at radio producer's benefit
The event was held to benefit Yankees radio producer and web contributor Carlos Silva, who is battling esophageal and stomach cancer. Silva has been a big part of the Yankees family for nearly a quarter-century, currently with WCBS radio as the Yankees broadcast producer and engineer and also as a Spanish-language contributor to YESNetwork.com.
Having been around the team for so long, Silva has become close with many past and present Yankees, including Rivera, who jumped at the chance to be part of the benefit.
"[Yankees Director of Communications and Media Relations] Jason [Zillo] called me and said we were doing this for Carlos, and I jumped in," Rivera said. "What I love about Carlos is his passion, for what he does and for life. You want to help a person like that, especially a good friend like Carlos."
Prior to the Q&A with the Yankees quartet, 50 lucky VIP ticketholders were able to take part in a meet and greet with Cashman, Girardi and Rivera, getting photos with and autographs from the bosses and the "Sandman," and the 100 general ticketholders for the event received an autographed baseball from one of the Yankees in attendance.
"There are a lot of Yankee fans out there who have spent their hard earned money to come out and support Carlos," said Cashman, "and while they may not know much about him, they know he's part of the family, and it's great that they have come out to support him."
Beyond players and team brass, several other members of the Yankees family were on hand, including the WCBS radio broadcast team of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, who have worked side-by-side with Silva since 2006.
"Carlos did everything right in his whole life; he works hard all the time, and has raised three absolutely wonderful kids," Waldman said. "But cancer doesn't play favorites, so you do everything you can to help someone. Chemo treatments are grueling as it is – but to not have any insurance, I can't imagine the terror you go through worrying about your bills and your family."
As a cancer survivor herself, the event was especially emotional for Waldman.
"Last week was the 17th anniversary of my being diagnosed, and one of the things that happens is you should find somebody who has gone through it," Waldman explained. "If you've gone through it and come out the other side, you can tell someone what's going to happen when going through treatment. That's what I've done for Carlos; every question he asks, I tell him everything that's going to happen. It's terrifying to go through, so to have someone who has gone through it is very helpful."
After some remarks by WCBS staffers and Yankees brass, fans were treated to the main event of the evening: the Q&A with four of their larger-than-life heroes moderated by the WCBS broadcasters.
Cashman and Girardi went first, discussing the tough final days of the Yankees' 2012 season, the makeup of the 2013 roster, the circumstances surrounding injured third baseman Alex Rodriguez, and perhaps the most hot-button question of the winter: Who will be the Opening Day catcher?
"There is no formula for our catching right now, but we believe we have a group of guys who can get the job done," Girardi said. "It's easy to measure numbers, but sometimes what really gets overlooked is how many runs a catcher can save, and whether or not the pitchers enjoy throwing to them. We believe we have catchers who fit that, and they will be productive in their own way."
The general manager piggybacked that, adding his thoughts on the competition.
"Developmentally, Austin Romine should probably be in Triple-A, but that's not to say he can't come in and take this job if Joe and the evaluators say he's the best," Cashman added. "I'd say right now he's on the outside looking in, but it's not a situation that's never happened before."
Teixeira and Rivera joined their bosses about halfway through the Q&A, and both men were all smiles as they answered questions, with Rivera making a bold promise.
"You haven't seen the last of me in the outfield!" he joked, moments after Cashman was asked whether or not Mo would ever play center field. When asked right after about whether he would retire following 2013, however, Rivera's demeanor turned serious yet introspective.
"I can't tell you that with all of these cameras here…but I will tell you that I have at least one more year, 2013, with the Yankees, and will do everything I can to bring home a championship," he said.
Many fans walked away winners at the end of the night, too, as there was a silent auction held at the event featuring memorabilia from several New York teams, including Yankees and Mets stars, former Met and 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, and even Knicks center Tyson Chandler.
There is also an online auction on MLB.com to benefit Silva, with fans able to bid on prizes including a half-hour pitching lesson with Rivera, a batting lesson from Cano and the opportunity to watch a 2013 game with Brian Cashman in his private suite at Yankee Stadium.
"I wish I could bid on everything, but I've been a big fan of Andy Pettitte since I was a kid, so I'm hoping I can win that autographed ball," said 26-year-old Derrick Castle of Massapequa, New York, who added that the experience was "just awesome."
Silva himself was unable to attend the event, but through Yankees PR, he sent a heartfelt thank you to everyone involved – and one of his colleagues gave away some of his future plans.
"I talk to Carlos every day, and he says he's going to be back in the booth this year," Waldman said, beaming. "He's doing really well, he has a few chemo treatments left, and he says he's going to be there for our first game on Feb. 24."
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES