It seems the assembled cable operators only wanted the same pitch that DirecTV (NYSE:DTV) received from Major League Baseball. But there's no joy in Mudville; the operators say the league struck them out with a roundhouse curve ball instead.

On March 8, DirecTV announced that it had cut a $700 million deal with the major leagues to let the satellite television provider carry an "Extra Innings" package of out-of-market games for its subscribers. When the deal was announced, Major League Baseball gave the other incumbent carriers until the end of this month to match the deal, which includes required carriage of The Baseball Channel once it launches in 2009.

iN Demand, owned by affiliates of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), and privately held, Atlanta-based Cox Communications, stepped up to the plate, confident that it had complied with baseball's terms for carrying "Extra Innings." iN Demand's President Robert Jacobson publicly announced that its offer met all of MLB's conditions: "As the current home for 'Extra Innings' for more than 200,000 cable subscribers, we have extended ourselves to do our best to be able to continue to provide this package to baseball fans and our customers."

But as Jacobson touched first base, convinced he had legged out a hit for his subscribers, Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, called a hearty "steeeerike." According to DuPuy, iN Demand's supposed home run offer had actually landed well inside the outfield, completely missing the requirements for carrying The Baseball Channel and sharing rights fees for "Extra Innings."

An in-your-face argument quickly ensued at home plate. Jacobson huffed, "By rejecting this matching offer, Major League Baseball has proven it never intended for iN Demand to have a fair and equal opportunity to bid for Extra Innings." DuPuy retorted that the March 31 deadline for completion of a cable-baseball deal stands. There'll simply be no, um, extra innings.

So DirecTV, which prides itself on the depth and quality of its sports offerings, slides home with a meaningful addition to its package. But with heavy-hitting lineup of powerful owners, don't assume that iN Demand won't similarly score before this month ends.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments.