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IS MIKE PIAZZA PLAYING HARDBALL OVER SPIKE SELECTION?

          After months of trying to re-sign Mike Piazza to a shoe
     contract, Nike "is worried that it might lose him,"
     according to an AP report in the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. 
     Piazza has spent his entire career with Nike, but since his
     two-year shoe contract expired last season, he has not
     signed a new deal with the company, "nor does he display the
     swoosh on the Nikes he wears on the field."  Nike
     spokesperson Robin Carr-Locke said of Piazza, "We're trying
     to work with him again."  But the AP reports that Nike,
     which considers Piazza "the most marketable baseball star
     next to" Ken Griffey Jr., is not the only shoe company "in
     the running."  Piazza is also considering deals with Mizuno
     and Asics.  Piazza made at least $3M endorsing Japanese
     products last year, while grossing about the same in the
     U.S., "the bulk coming from Nike and Pert Plus shampoo." 
     One source said Piazza's asking price for a one year deal is
     about $250,000 (AP/Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/28).

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