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MLB owners lock out the players as expected, shutting down the sport

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Dodgers Opening Postponed due to cornoavirus Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

The result we all expected has come to fruition. After Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement expired at 8:59 a.m. PT on Wednesday, the league’s owners instituted a lockout, essentially freezing the sport until a new labor agreement is reached.

It’s the first MLB work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike.

Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a long statement from the league that doesn’t take a sharp tool to poke holes in. But the crux of the divide between players and owners is clear by a pair of statement excerpts.

“This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive,” said Manfred. “It’s simply not a viable option. From the beginning, the MLBPA has been unwilling to move from their starting position, compromise, or collaborate on solutions.”

The MLB Players Association responded: “This shutdown is a dramatic measure, regardless of the timing. It is not required by law or for any other reason. It was the owners’ choice, plain and simple, specifically calculated to pressure Players into relinquishing rights and abandoning good faith bargaining proposals that will benefit not just Players, but the game and industry as a whole.”

Manfred on Thursday morning is expected to hold a press conference in Arlington, Texas, where owners and players negotiated this week, but obviously did not come to an agreement.

After a flurry of transactions on Wednesday, including the Dodgers signing Chris Taylor to a four-year contract, MLB is in a holding pattern until things get resolved. There are no transactions, and no contact between teams and players during the lockout. The major league portion of the winter meetings were also canceled.

There’s a whole lot of nothing.

Even the league’s website, MLB.com, is dramatically different. Team sites as well as the main hub don’t have any stories regarding current players, and team roster pages don’t even show pictures of the players.

MLB.com, only with no current MLB players
From Dodgers.com

MLB.com has an explainer for the current state of the site: “Until a new agreement is reached, there will be limitations on the type of content we display. As a result, you will see a lot more content that focuses on the game’s rich history.”