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A week of intense negotiations over the major league baseball strike collapsed this afternoon, killing hopes of a compromise before a team owners' deadline Thursday to impose a controversial cap on players' salaries. Barring a surprise, today's failure to see eye-to-eye makes it likely the players' union will challenge the cap before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), prompting lengthy proceedings and increasing the likelihood that teams will go to spring training with replacement players. Meanwhile, the NLRB hours earlier said it would charge owners with failure to bargain in good faith and with discriminating against union members, specifically because the owners failed to pay almost $8 million to the players' benefit plan in August.