Is Throwing a Wild Pitch Criminal Behavior?

This idea of “implied consent” -- in other words, on-field athletes and personnel understand the risks of participation -- is one that is generally followed in the United States. Even in Canada, where National Hockey League players have been prosecuted for violent acts on the ice, the general rule is unless a violent act is intended and totally unexpected, it isn’t criminal. (On rare occasions, the law does step in as was the case with Todd Bertuzzi in 2004 when he grabbed opposing player Steve Moore from behind and began punching him in the head.)

Baseball has had its share of tragedy on the diamond. In 1920, New York Yankees hurler Carl Mays killed Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman with an errant pitch, and in 2007, minor league first base coach Mike Coolbaugh died after a foul ball hit him in the neck. Both are horrible events, but in neither case were charges pressed.

The Czech towns of Brno and Ostrava are a long way from Yankee Stadium, and one would expect that any criminal legal decisions pertaining to baseball in Europe will have little or no echo outside the continent. But the line between regrettable actions on sports fields and criminal intent should be drawn bright. Surely, governments have better ways to focus their energies.