Going home without the gnome

On Tuesday night, fans at Angel Stadium got to see Ervin Santana pitch his heart out and Mike Napoli belt a homer on the way to an 8-3 Los Angeles victory over Toronto.

But the fans didn't get their garden gnomes. The Angels' giveaway was postponed because the gnomes, which look like Santa Claus, failed to arrive. The Halos, according to the Orange County Register, blamed shipping issues and promised to mail them to their fans.

This turn of events was a blow to the monthly gathering of a group called the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, who had come for their gnomes. Fortunately, the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas don't seem like the type to trash the place. Especially on the 25th of the month.

Tirade of the day

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen wasn't pleased with umpire Joe West after West ejected Guillen and pitcher Mark Buehrle on Wednesday for arguing two balk calls:

"Joe has been like that for a lot of years, and he's always going to be like this," Guillen said, according to the Associated Press. "I'm not going to change it, nobody is going to change it, but sometimes he thinks people pay to watch him umpire."

Rising royalty

Billy Butler has yet to draw a lot of attention. Except, that is, from Kansas City fans who are looking for some sign, any sign, that the Royals might get better. For them, Butler is a reason for hope.

With a home run and a single Wednesday in a 5-2 win over Texas, the first baseman raised his average to .348. Last year, at the age of 23, he belted 73 extra-base hits, including 51 doubles.

How good can he be? Baseball-Reference.com's list of the 10-most similar players through age 23 includes only one Hall of Famer, Jim Rice. But the list also includes six very fine players: Keith Hernandez, Kent Hrbek, George Scott, John Olerud, Gary "Sarge" Matthews, and Greg Luzinski.

In an alternate universe . . .

If you ever have an afternoon to kill, the website of the Hall of Merit might be for you. That is the home of an ambitious project: Some truly devout stat-worshippers have come up with their own version of the Baseball Hall of Fame, only better.

These folks have, since 2003, run more than 100 "annual" elections to stock their hall from start to finish. So, for instance, in their 1968 election, Richie Ashburn was a first-ballot selection. (He waited until 1995 to get the call from Cooperstown.) The Hall of Merit can be found at www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/.