On each BBWAA voter’s Hall of Fame ballot you’ll find the following instructions:
Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
That’s just broad enough to cover everything, which is the point. Within those 23 words, though, are some puzzling word choices. For instance, how is the voter supposed to discern between a candidate’s playing record and his playing ability? And how are those distinguished from his “contributions to the team(s)”? Then, of course, there are the three words — “integrity, sportsmanship, character” — that have come to be known informally as the “character clause” of the ballot instructions.
As we know all too well, the character clause has been wielded inconsistently over the years and decades. Right now, it’s keeping, two of the greatest performers ever based on the numbers, out of the Hall because of PED allegations. It’s probably costing Curt Schilling some votes because of his controversial behavior on social media since his…