Baseball fans in St. Louis, often admittedly irrational people who tend to form opinions with their hearts instead of their heads, had seen a sad story like this play out before -- and within a few short weeks, their whispers morphed into grumbles.

Was Albert Pujols coming back to the Cardinals a good idea? One of the greatest right-handed hitters in baseball history isn’t going to embarrass himself, is he? How painful is this going to be to watch over 162 games? Will the Redbirds have to, gulp, waive him?

Those concerns/complaints came after Pujols stumbled early in the season, collecting just 23 hits in his first 116 at-bats (.198 average). May (.188 with two home runs) and June (.158 and homerless) were also particularly troublesome, causing some to wonder if this comeback story was headed for an unsightly ending.

What those doubters didn’t get to see was Pujols dripping with sweat some four hours prior to first pitch because he had already taken three rounds of batting practice. They didn’t see how he was rarely without a video tablet -- something he uses to study pitchers’ tendencies tirelessly. And they definitely didn’t fully understand the dogged determination that rests inside of Pujols, a motivation that still drives him to be great.

Now, on the heels of Pujols’ 63rd career multi-home run game, and an impressive stretch where he has conjured memories of when he was one of the best baseball players on the planet from 2001-11, the cries from fans, sports talk-radio callers and Twitter zealots have shifted dramatically.