This probably needs not be pointed out so soon after the 2016 presidential election, but, just so we're clear here: Polls aren't always accurate forecasts of what's to come.

Still, the publicly available polls pertaining to the 2017 National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot are simply fascinating. Not because they lead us to believe the voting body is finally going to do right by Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell (two long-deserving candidates who have endured the steady ascension toward the 75-percent threshold), but because a sudden swell of support has arrived for the two most dominant stars of the so-called steroid era.

Yes, the exit polls are looking good for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two poll-arizing players.

Bonds, you might remember, won seven MVP awards, broke the single-season and career home run records and had a really amazing season in which he posted a .444 on-base percentage and .607 slugging percentage and … wait, check that … those were his career OBP and SLG marks! He is on the short, short list of the greatest players the game ever saw. 

And Clemens. Hard to forget -- or "misremember" -- that he won seven Cy Young Awards and an MVP Award of his own, along with 354 wins. He struck out 4,672 batters, won two rings, threw a bat fragment at Mike Piazza, got hypnotized into thinking he was a chicken on "The Simpsons" and made Suzyn Waldman freak out that one time. He had 24 seasons of sustained excellence, and many of those seasons took place at a time when the game was replete with runs. Lean on longevity, and there is a very real argument to be made that his was the greatest pitching career the game ever saw. 

But Bonds and Clemens came to represent something bigger than their outsized stat lines. Bonds is forever intertwined with BALCO, Clemens with the Mitchell Report. Bonds' obstruction of justice charge has been overturned, and Clemens has been found not guilty on six counts of lying to Congress about his steroid use. But, the court of public opinion being quite different than an actual court, the cheater labels have hardly washed off. 

And so these have been the results in the first four years that Clemens and Bonds have been on the ballot (and remember, a player must be selected on at least 75 percent of ballots to get in):
















With the necessary caveat that I wander through life in a near-constant state of confusion, I must point out here that the fact that there have consistently been voters willing to select Clemens and not Bonds has utterly baffled me each of the last four years.

OK, that's not really the point. The point is that until this month, there wasn't exactly overwhelming evidence to suggest Bonds and Clemens would get in via this particular method of entry. Maybe down the road through one of the Hall's always-evolving committees, or maybe if enough Baseball Writers' Association of America hard-liners retired or died off and the younger and more lenient members of the voting body began to command a higher percentage of the tallies.

But even that gain made from 2015-16 was modest enough to make you wonder if Bonds and Clemens would wind up as outliers. Actually, 93 percent of players not on the current ballot who drew at least 35 percent support from the BBWAA on at least one occasion eventually wound up in Cooperstown. Bonds and Clemens, though, rated as controversial enough to potentially wind up in the slim realm of the 7 percent. 

Well, then something interesting -- and inevitable -- happened this month: Bud Selig got elected into the Hall by one of those aforementioned committees. Specifically, it was a 15-for-16 showing in the Today's Era Committee voting.

Selig changed baseball in many clear and substantive ways, up to and including the adoption of one of the more stringent drug-testing policies in all of sports. He faced a Players Association rigorously opposed to such testing and had to find a way to make labor peace in the wake of the 1994 work stoppage. But because he presided over the game at a time when steroid use had been commonplace, there's a perception by some in the media that Selig's induction is somehow correlated to the candidacies of Bonds and Clemens. Whether or not you agree (our own Mike Lupica wrote about how the cases are hardly apples to apples), you're seeing something remarkable. Thanks to Ryan Thibodaux's tireless tracking of all ballots publicly posted by voters), these, as of midday Thursday, were the percentages Bonds and Clemens had accrued:

Bonds: 71%
Clemens: 71%

Hey, look, their percentages are actually the same! 

The caveat, of course, is that those percentages had come from just 86 public and anonymous ballots, with an estimate that well north of 400 ballots will be cast by the year-end deadline.

So, again, don't go crazy over the polls. It could be that transparent voters tend to double as particularly open-minded voters, or maybe this is just a dangerously deceiving small sample.

Still, as Yahoo's Jeff Passan pointed out, Bonds and Clemens were on just 52 percent of the first 50 publicly available ballots available last year and 70 percent of the first 50 this year. So it sure seems something is up, and that something is support of Bonds' and Clemens' candidacies.

With Bonds and Clemens currently short of the 75-percent mark even in the exit polling, we won't likely see anything settled next month. But if the polls are any indication, these two legends-turned-lepers have a pulse, perhaps even enough momentum to make this a legit 2018 talking point. At the very least, the logjam of clearly worthy candidates begins to clear at the beginning of the next decade (the only slam-dunk entrant to the ballot in either 2020 or 2021 is Derek Jeter) and by then Bonds and Clemens, who are eligible for inclusion on the BBWAA ballot through 2022, could be locks.

For those of us who view the Hall not as the saint-filled sanctuary some want it to be, but as simply the gallery of great players (read: great numbers) that it actually is, this is some positive polling. But we'll see how accurate it is next month.


Anthony Castrovince is a Sports on Earth contributor, columnist and MLB Network contributor. Follow him on Twitter @Castrovince.