SAN FRANCISCO

Once upon a time when people sat down to watch baseball games, they kept scorebooks. Now, they obsess over hashtags.

Makes a person wonder what #AbnerDoubleday would think. Probably, he would #WonderWTH?

I should probably explain what hashtags are, for those of you who do not speak Twitter. Hashtags are the phrases (preceded by the # symbol) that are used to denote the subject matter of those 140-character messages that people send to their "followers" via the social media tool.

Example: If you are interested in what people on Twitter are saying about broadcaster Joe Buck's eyebrows, you can type #JoeBucksEyebrows into your Twitter account to enjoy all the comments — plus provoke some.

(Don't ask me why people would be interested in commenting on Joe Buck's eyebrows, smugly arched as they may be. But I can assure you that, based on my research, Joe Buck's eyebrows are a more interesting subject than most Twitter topics.)

All of which brings us to what happened before the Giants' must-win game in St. Louis on Friday night. An enthusiastic soul out there in the Twitterverse started a movement in which people were asked to swap out their Twitter avatar for a picture of Zito. The movement was called #RallyZito and as the evening progressed, with Zito pitching nearly eight shutout innings in the victory, the hashtag exploded and became a "trending topic." In the Twitter status world, this is like hitting it big and dating a supermodel.


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Of course, #RallyZito is now #SoYesterday, what with the series returning to AT&T Park on Sunday. Zito is out of the picture for a while. His starting spot won't come up again in 2012 unless the Giants reach the World Series. That means there'll be a demand for new hashtags as the team keeps trying to fend off elimination in Game 6 and a potential Game 7.

What will those hashtags be? You came to the right place. If you want to get ahead of the curve and sit with all the cool kids on the Twitter bus, here are the most groovy trending topics you should be looking for:

  • #RallyEnchiladas. This one already is in full force. The Giants' starting pitcher Sunday is Ryan Vogelsong, whose pregame meal always consists of chicken enchiladas. Vogelsong, like Zito, will likely have to pitch his best game of the postseason to give his teammates a chance to extend the series.

    Vogelsong won Game 2 against the Cardinals in impressive fashion, allowing just four hits and one run over seven innings. St. Louis hitters go to school on that video and come up with a counter-approach. But I think Vogelsong's guts, honed over the ups and downs of his circuitous baseball journey, will pull him through. After Game 5, he said: "Hopefully, I can go out and throw up a good one on Sunday." Which sounds disgusting, but I understood. And I think it's better than 50-50 there will be a Game 7 on Monday.

  • #RibletDelight. This one would work if the Giants are somehow able to defeat Cardinals' starter Chris Carpenter again Sunday, as they did in Game 2. You've got to hand it to Carpenter, one tough customer who three months ago underwent neurogenic thoracic outlet surgery to relieve numbness in his throwing arm. The operation actually included the removal of one rib, which his young daughter reportedly keeps in a jar at home.

    Carpenter is St. Louis' alltime leader in postseason victories (10) and won Game 7 for the Cardinals in last year's World Series. Still, he looked human last Sunday at AT&T Park. My admiration is great for the man — it's hard enough just pronouncing "neurogenic thoracic," let alone enduring it — but it's hard to believe he's 100% healthy or can be 100% effective.

  • #Pandarobics. You must admit, it is magnificent entertainment, the way that Giants' third baseman Pablo "Panda" Sandoval dives and half-cartwheels and pirouettes while fielding his position. Inevitably, some enterprising exercise guru will created a "Pandarobics" workout program based on Sandoval's unique form.

    Of course, the program's unique twist will be that while doing Pandarobics, you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Seems to work well for Sandoval, who in this series has been the Giants' most consistent hitter other than Marco Scutaro. In the meantime, this hashtag can be used for any comments about Sandoval's unique style.

  • #BochysBigBrain. The Giants' manager, Bruce Bochy, has received heaping praise for his work this season. But I am happy to heap on even more. There is a reason this man has won all four of his previous postseason series as the team's manager. He has the touch. And as a brain scientist told me last year, it has nothing to do with Bochy's XXL hat size. Large skulls and large brains don't necessarily mean a man is smarter. Though you could fool me.

    Friday night, Bochy made one of his classic moves that you might question until everything settles. In the second inning, the Cardinals had runners on second and third base with one out and Bochy ordered an intentional walk to Pete Kozma to fill the bases with pitcher Lance Lynn coming up. If Lynn had poked a single — or even struck out, with the leadoff hitter coming up — the decision could have backfired. Instead, Lynn hit into a double play. Inning over. At that moment, I said to myself about Bochy: "Screw baseball. I want this man to manage my 401K."

  • #SomerssaultingHunter. Giants' outfielder Hunter Pence is scuffling and struggling at the plate. But he made a hold-your-breath sliding catch Friday that Zito called "incredible" and "a testament to his athletic ability."

    If it appears Pence is doing acrobatics out there in right, that's no accident. He was the Texas state power-tumbling champion when he was nine years old and as a kid, would occasionally do handsprings en route to taking his position in the field. You know, that sort of thing would be a terrific finish to a home run trot. He hit a homer in Game 4 in a losing cause. Another one Sunday would be nice.

  • #NoRainNoRainNoRain. This, as cultural historians know, was the chant at Woodstock when the crowd wanted the showers to cease. It could come in handy again Monday if the series goes to a Game 7 and the forecast calls for 80% chance of rain. After the three hour and 20 minute delay for wet weather in Game 3, this series doesn't need another long mid-contest pause. But maybe the Giants could have the Woodstock movie — which lasts 330 minutes — cued up for the crowd to play on the Jumbotron, just in case.

  • #RideTheHorse. If there is a Game 7, the Giants' starter would be Matt Cain, who is like a horse with his strong presence and reliability. The Giants have a terrific chance to advance if it does get that far. But first, they need a whole lot of #RallyEnchiladas.

    There. That's all I have got for now. Feel free to hashtag amongst yourselves.

    Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MercPurdy.