The Mariners signed Ken Griffey Jr. to a contract extension
yesterday that will keep him in Seattle through 2000 and make him
MLB's first $8M-a-year player (Mariners).  Griffey will average
$8.5M a year, with the overall deal worth $34M.  Murray Chass,
who writes that Griffey "is to major league baseball what Michael
Jordan is to the National Basketball Association," notes that
keeping him in Seattle "was vital" for the Mariners (N.Y. TIMES,
2/1).  In Washington, Mark Maske notes the deal is "the biggest
signing during an offseason with a general trend toward economic
cutbacks" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/1).  ESPN's Bob Ley:  "If there is
a player worth an average of eight-and-a-half million dollars a
year into the next century, Junior is it.  And if there was a
franchise on the upswing delicately hovering between success and
relocation, it was Seattle" ("SportsCenter," 1/31).  Griffey
appeared at the press conference with a Nike hat and an Official
All-Star Cafe hockey shirt (he's a part-owner) (THE DAILY).
CNN's Fred Hickman notes the deal places Griffey "not as high as
you might think" among other sports stars.  THE TOP TEN: Mike
Tyson $40M; Riddick Bowe $22M; Deion Sanders $16.5M; Drew Bledsoe
$13M; Gerhard Berger $12M; Evander Holyfield $11M; George Foreman
$10M; Willie Schumacher $10M; Wayne Gretzky $8.5M; Griffey $8.5M
("Sports Tonight," 1/31).
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