The "integrity" clause in the Hall of Fame ballot is needing some interpretation from baseball writers this winter. The ballot states:
"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."
So to some writers, that means Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and others won't get votes. But will it work the other way around? Meaning, will players whose character was exemplary get them more votes?
Exhibit A in this year's voting will be a player who has languished at the bottom of the ballot for the past 14 years: Dale Murphy. It's his 15th and final shot on the writers' ballot, and the meanest thing you can say about dear old "Murph" was that his career didn't have staying power after leaving Atlanta for Philadelphia.
And for a few years in the 1980s, Murphy was one of the best players in the game, hitting for power and showing his speed every night on the Superstation. He hit .265 in his career with 398 home runs, and if I were a voter, I might just vote for him. (Perhaps partially because he was my favorite baseball player as a youngster.)
And if the fans were the ones voting, Murphy would have a reasonable shot.
Murphy's I Won't Cheat foundation is front and center at the Little League World Series, and it goes beyond baseball. There are several social media campaigns, a petition at Change.org and Murphy's eight children are a big part of the campaign to maximize his candidacy, showing plenty of intelligence and creativity. Daughter Madison wrote a blog about her humble father and son Chad -- a PhD candidate in organizational behavior at Penn State -- wrote a letter and sent it to every Hall of Fame voter. Son Tyson, an artist, drew a cartoon.
"It's been like Christmas and Father's Day times 100," Dale Murphy said to MLB.com. "It's just an emotional and tender feeling of what the kids have put together in their efforts. They've just gone the extra mile for me. 'Thanks' does not sound like the adequate word."
But does he really have a chance? The most votes he ever received in a year was 23.2 percent in 2000. He had 14.5 percent last year.
Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote Monday that he will vote for Murphy, but not for Bonds, Clemens or even Jeff Bagwell, who was never linked to any performance-enhancing drugs case. John Canzano of the Oregonian will vote for Murphy. So will Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. And several others.
Yet Murphy's chances to make it to 75 percent are extremely slim. But here's a pretty easy prediction: He'll get more than Clemens or Bonds. Perhaps combined.