It would be nice to politely discuss Curt Schilling’s candidacy for baseball’s Hall of Fame by looking at the numbers and only the numbers. Maybe, for some, 216 wins seem too few. Maybe, others would counter, 3,116 strikeouts are enough, given that only 14 pitchers have recorded more — and 13 of them are in Cooperstown already. Plus, all the postseason heroics. Let’s chew on it.

But the Hall of Fame’s voting process is broken and has been broken for years, and Schilling’s hissy fit about the voting body and his prospects for election is a symptom, not the problem. The credentials needed for enshrinement involve not just batting average and ERA but personal scruples and ethical standing, and the electorate that decides the honor should recuse itself en masse. It’s a mess, and it has transformed what should be a joyous celebration of the sport’s greatest figures into a tedious fight over morals and politics.

This isn’t about Schilling solely, because the system had flaws long before this year’s election, when he received more votes than any other candidate but still failed to reach the threshold for induction. But it’s about Schilling at the moment because now he wants to be left off the ballot, the last look-at-me bit of flair from a player whose most well-developed tool was always drawing attention to himself.

At issue is this: Schilling has promoted transphobic thoughts via social media, a transgression that was the final straw in his firing by ESPN. Given a platform by right-wing media outlet Breitbart, he hosted a podcast in which he welcomed a congressional candidate who endorsed White supremacy. He promoted a photo of a man wearing a T-shirt that read “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required” by tweeting, “Ok, so much awesome here …” He accepted a $75 million loan from the state of Rhode Island to bring his gaming business — then defaulted on the loan, ultimately filing for bankruptcy and agreeing to repay the state $61 million. On and on.

And after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, he tweeted support for the rioters, saying in part, “sit back [shut up] and watch folks start a confrontation for [stuff] that matters like rights, democracy and the end of [government] corruption.”

All this is supposed to be factored in to whether he’s a Hall of Fame player? Well, kinda sorta. In its instructions to voters — the body we will get to in a moment — the Hall of Fame says, “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.” Those three words — “integrity, sportsmanship, character” — were implemented in 1945 and have since been casually but constantly referred to as the Hall’s “morality clause.”

Their inclusion doesn’t just give each voter the right to apply her or his own ethics to a candidate. It has seemed to require such an assessment. Given that, it would be easy for a particular voter to determine Schilling lacks both integrity and character and therefore he’s not worthy of a vote. Indeed, if 16 of the 401 voters this year made that determination, then the “morality clause” kept Schilling out. It’s worth noting that 285 voters — more than 71 percent — checked Schilling’s name, far more than didn’t, and so his Facebook screed that “the media has created a Curt Schilling that does not and has never existed” rings more than a tad hollow.

But it’s also worth noting that on the Hall’s own explanation of its rules changes over the years, it says that the “character, integrity and sportsmanship” rule “applies to how the game was played on the field, more so than character off the field.”

That’s gray. How gray? Charcoal?

What do we want the Hall of Fame to be? Is it a museum that documents the history of the game while honoring the best players to pull on a uniform? Or is it a museum that documents the history of the game while honoring the best players to pull on a uniform who also were morally upstanding?

This question isn’t just about Schilling, of course. It applies to Omar Vizquel, a big league shortstop for 24 seasons and one of the great defensive players in the game’s history who late last year was accused of domestic violence by his wife. It applies, of course, to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, arguably the greatest hitter and pitcher of the last generation — each of whom used performance-enhancing drugs and lied about it.

Schilling, Bonds and Clemens are all due to be on the Baseball Writers Association of America’s ballot for just one more year before their cases are turned over to the veterans’ committee, but this issue isn’t going away. Alex Rodriguez — who trails only Bonds, the late Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth in home runs — appears on the ballot for the first time next year. Rodriguez repeatedly used PEDs, repeatedly lied about it and was eventually suspended for the entire 2014 season. Will a newer, younger generation of voters consider Rodriguez the same way this recent generation of voters considered Bonds, Clemens, Mark McGwire and others?

About the voters: It’s time to change them. Long since time to change them. This is easy for me to say because The Washington Post is among the publications that does not allow its writers to vote not just for the Hall of Fame but for annual awards such as MVP and Cy Young.

The job of sportswriters isn’t to make news and participate in history. It’s to report news and document history. They’re hyper-qualified, and in some ways, there’s no better electorate. Yet it makes the mind hurt that the same people who are writing stories about Schilling’s exclusion and his subsequent wishes to be left off the ballot are the same people who determined — either because of his baseball or his beliefs — he was or wasn’t worthy of the Hall.

If not writers, then who? Broadcasters care deeply and see thousands of games in a career, but they are chosen by teams and might feel beholden to their employers. They’re out. Living Hall of Famers might have an inclination to keep players out rather than let them in. It’s not an easy fix. Imagine a panel — a panel that’s diverse in race and age and gender — of historians, former players and executives who care about the game who could do a good job without being burdened by obvious conflicts of interest.

Curt Schilling sure doesn’t seem like a Hall of Fame person. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a Hall of Fame player. He wants to extract himself from the process because he’s “mentally done”? Fine, whatever. What’s more important is that the process be overhauled and the Hall return to being a celebration of the best to play the game rather than an annual exercise in ethics and morality in which the people tasked with documenting the honorees also determine them.