With each and every dispatch from the West Coast bearing news of another hitless night, there are growing legions of indignant baseball fans in St. Louis who are convinced that this is Albert Pujols' painful comeuppance. While his departure from the Cardinals last winter did not quite reach the insanely negative national derision of Lebron James' infamous "The Decision," the former Redbird slugger's escape to Anaheim does not lack for its own special brand of obsessive contempt and mean-spirited malevolence.

The wistful members of Cardinals Nation who choose to dwell on the good stuff Pujols did for more than a decade here seem to be muted by the multitudes who now obsess and revel in his struggles in his new baseball home. For more than a decade, he was all theirs, a valued local treasure with Ruthian abilities on the diamond and a philanthropic soul off it. And now? Well, now they think he's a miserable, greedy mercenary, a disloyal ingrate and a traitorous wretch who is getting exactly what he deserves.

Now his critics revel in his failures, calling him an over-the-hill slugger as he struggles at the plate, trying to find that sweet home-run swing that made him baseball's most dynamic slugger for the past decade.

After an 0-for-four Friday night that dropped his batting average under .200, he is homerless in his last 108 at-bats, the longest home run drought of his career. He was booed on Friday night at home, and it wasn't one of those faint pockets of discontent. It was loud and rumbling and impossible to ignore. And it has to make you wonder if Pujols isn't starting to wonder if taking Arte Moreno's $240 million deal was really worth it.

As he struggles to find some sense of normalcy in his baseball life again, it's certainly fair to say that Pujols — who was out of the lineup Saturday against Toronto for what manager Mike Scioscia called a "refresh day" — is laying in a self-made bed of thorns.