Mark Haines: Darren Rovell Remembers
Haines was one of a kind.
When I got to CNBC in July 2006, I knew I'd have to get to know Mark Haines. And boy did I.
Over the years, I learned this about Mark: He was who many of you would have been if you had been on our air. He was the guy who asked the uncomfortable questions, who loved to do what anchors never do — tell his audience what was in the prompter — and why, sometimes, he didn't want to read it. In doing so, he peeled back the curtain and let the audience in on the act. That's one of the reasons why they loved him.
Over the years, I couldn't wait when Mark introduced my segment. Because I knew that he was going to give his own take on it. In live television, viewers love when things are unpredictable, when things don't go as planned. Mark would make sure that happened.
Like the time when I had Electronic Arts' Peter Moore on to talk about why the company was sticking with Tiger Woods. In the middle of my interview Mark says to Peter something like, "If Tiger killed someone, would you still have him on your cover?"
I walked off the set stunned. I had to do some crisis management with the folks at EA. Why did Mark ask that question. Because it was what popped into his damn head. Not many people in our business are willing to do that. To think of something totally unfiltered and let it come out of their mouth.
Then there was this year's Opening Day, when I went to interview Dave Howard, the executive vice president of business operations for the Mets, a team that Haines had been a fan of since the first day in 1962. With the Mets in the worst position they've been in a long time, I knew Haines was going to have some tough questions from the fan perspective. Sure enough, it happened.
Here's how it went down:
Darren: "Mark, you have a question?"
Mark: "Yeah, when are they going to win?...Here's the thing, as you well know, this is New York. This is not Baltimore, this is not Kansas City. This is New York and people expect a winner...I gotta be honest, I'm not going out to that stadium until I have a reasonable shot of winning a game."
Dave Howard: "Well, you'll be out soon then, Mark."
So I get back to my interview and Dave Howard talks about how last year they had a dropoff in attendance and then I wrapped up the interview and tossed it back to Mark. And here he comes.
Haines: "Wait, wait, wait. I gotta jump on that. And I'm not trying to give you a hard time, Dave. But you had a little bit more than a dropoff in 2010. Attendance declined 600,000! Come on, that was a disaster."
That was Haines. He was our John Daly. He was your everyman. I'll miss him.
Darren Rovell is CNBC's Sports Business Reporter and the author of the "Sports Biz" blog on CNBC.com