ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 23: Josh Outman #88 of the Oakland Athletics pitches in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the game at Angel Stadium on May 23, 2011 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
Oh, he doesn't win many baseball games. Not yet, anyway. Oakland's 26-year-old lefty has won six games in parts of three major-league seasons. Friday night, Outman's teammates gave him a 4-0 lead against the Red Sox in the first inning, but he wound up with a no-decision after getting knocked out of the game in the third inning.
Josh Outman wins the competition for the best name ever for a major-league pitcher.
His name is Out-Man, man.
But if we anoint Josh Outman as the de facto winner, it's worth reviewing the other contenders. Which, with a great deal of help from my Twitter minions, we will do now ...
1. Josh Outman (2008- )
Two more things about Joshua S. Outman ... He favors old-school socks and stirrups, which is just one more reason to hope he starts getting more outs. And his brother Zach pitched in the minors for the Blue Jays in 2009 and '10 (to little effect, unfortunately.
2. Chief Bender (1903-1917)
Hall of Fame right-hander Charles Albert Bender was a Native American from Minnesota who spent the bulk of his career with Connie Mack's dynastic Philadelphia Athletics. What makes Bender so wonderful is that "bender" entered the lexicon as a term for curveballs late in the 19th Century, just before the Chief arrived in the majors. And when asked to describe his repertoire of pitches in 1911, Bender began the list with "fast curves, pitched overhand and sidearm."
3. Jake Striker (1959-1960)
Jake Striker ... sounds like the name of a jet jockey in a 1950s B-movie, doesn't it? Funny thing is, Jake wasn't really a Jake; he was born Wilbur Scott Striker. Wilbur, though? You can't really blame the guy. He pitched in only three games in the majors, but earned a win in his lone major-league start.
4. Jack Armstrong (1988-1994)
The Armstrong name was famous long before Jack, of course. First there was Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, the world-famous jazz trumpeter and singer; his version of "What a Wonderful World" is iconic, even today. Neil Armstrong, if you believe the United States of America government -- and I'm not saying you should -- was the first human being to take a step on our moon.
But Jack was the first Armstrong whose name seemed to truly fit. And all the more so because Armstrong, who started the 1990 All-Star Game, did have a strong arm, routinely throwing his fastball in the low 90s when that was actually impressive.
5. Darcy Fast (1968)
Fast's entire career in the majors consisted of eight games and 10 innings for the Cubs in '68. His only start was also his last appearance, as he got knocked out by the Dodgers in the fourth inning and presumably drew the ire of manager Leo Durocher. Was Darcy Fast fast? I like to think so.
6. Bill Swift (1932-1943) and Billy Swift (1985-1998)
The first Bill Swift's stock-in-trade definitely relied on his fastball; half a century later, the second Bill Swift was one of the game's noted sinking fastballers.
7. Dave Heaverlo (1975-1981)
Did David Wallace Heaverlo really try to "heave 'er low"? Yeah, he did. A lot of guys in the 1970s made their livings as "sinker/slider guys" and Heaverlo was just another fine example. I think so, anyway. The only reference I've been able to find to Heaverlo's sinker is a joke he made about giving up a home run on a "rising sinker ball". Heaverlo was known as something of a flake, which might help explain the apparently premature end of his career. If nothing else, Heaverlo was definitely a Cardboard God.
8. Jack Fanning (1889-1894)
Fanning barely pitched in the majors: one game with the Indianapolis Hoosiers in '89, six games with the Phillies in '94. And our best information suggests that "fan" wasn't used as slang for strikeout until early in the 20th Century.
9. Nick Blackburn (2007- )
This one's pretty subtle, and I doff my cap to my Twitter follower who thought of it. But there's that black edge around home plate, and almost every pitcher's goal is to "paint the plack" with his pitches ... and if you can burn those pitches over the black, all the better.
10. Lance Painter (1993-2003)
Alas, Painter wasn't really much for painting the black. An original Colorado Rocky and a reliever during most of his career, Painter walked 3.6 batters per innings and wasn't much of a strikeout pitcher. You know he was trying, though.
Honorable Mentions: Derek Lowe, famous for keeping the ball below the batters' knees; Early Wynn, who earned exactly 300 wins in his Hall of Fame career; and Scott PItcher, who never pitched in the major leagues but should have, if only for a moment.
We can't leave this subject without mentioning the many names that don't seem fitting for pitchers. Including some familiar names and some unfamiliar, majors and minors: Grant Balfour, David Riske, Homer Ball (Homer Ball), Eric Plunk, Kevin Slowey, Peter Balke, Steve Junker.