CHICAGO (CBS) — A Major League Baseball lockout has officially begun after the players’ union’s collective bargaining agreement expired Wednesday night.

The owners have locked out players to avoid another strike, to which the sport would be susceptible without a new CBA.

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The players’ union wants to expand salary arbitration, and also wants earlier free agency for its players.

“I think we’re in a process. I’m prepared to continue that process, and I’m optimistic that we’re going to get a deal,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. “At the end of the day, it’s about the substance. We’re here, they’re there. We need to find a way to bridge the gap.”

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“The proposals that were made were taking something away on the back end, and so it made it remarkably difficult, when you dig into the details, to have the type of substantive conversation that you were interested in having since day one,” said Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark.

The last time there was an MLB work stoppage, fans lost the 1994 World Series as a result of a seven and a half-month strike.

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There is hope this current issue is resolved by Spring Training. But a long, cold winter is looking likely.

Marshall Harris