Jacoby Ellsbury didn’t homer on the first pitch thrown by Justin Verlander like Dwight Evans did off Jack Morris the last time the Red Sox opened their season in Detroit. Still, Thursday was a special day.

Thursday was actually the third (right?) Opening Day for Major League Baseball. The A’s and Mariners got the season started in Japan last week, then the Marlins hosted the Cardinals in their funky new stadium Wednesday night.

But in New England, baseball season started Thursday when Ellsbury took a called strike from Verlander at 1:10 p.m. And with that first pitch, an offseason of beer and chicken, compensation talks, managers coming and going, and sudden frugality by one of the richest teams in baseball, was over.

And for that, I am thankful.

In this day and age, where everyone has an opinion, everyone has an outlet to express their opinion, and most people use that outlet to scream that opinion at the top of their lungs, baseball’s offseason can be excruciatingly long.

Listening to all the shouts for Terry Francona to lose his job, then the yells that the Sox were making a huge mistake by letting him go, followed by the screams that Bobby Valentine is either the best or the worst thing to happen to the Red Sox was annoying, to say the least.

Listening to everyone demand an apology from Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey for eating chicken, drinking beer and playing video games in the clubhouse, then complaining that those apologies weren’t sincere enough made me want to throw a fastball through my TV screen.

Hearing everyone question the decision to trade away Marco Scutaro, then freak out when Mike Aviles was handed the starting shortstop job over Jose Iglesias was tiresome.

Thursday, at least for a few hours, all we had to talk about was the game — the beautiful game of baseball. We got to watch two terrific pitchers match zeros against two terrific offenses on a cool, crisp, sunny Thursday afternoon.

We didn’t have to worry, at least until Jon Lester left the game after the seventh inning, about chicken and beer.

Opening Day is always a day of optimism. The old adage, while certainly not true, is that every team has a chance on Opening Day. No one has lost a game yet. Everyone is in first place.

For Sox fans, if that optimism existed it probably was gone when Alex Avila hit an RBI double in the seventh inning to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. It probably came back when Ryan Sweeney tripled to tie the game at 2 in the top of the ninth. It certainly disappeared when the Tigers scored a run in the bottom of the ninth off newly minted closer Alfredo Aceves to take a 3-2 win.

The Sox collapse last season, their lack of moves in the offseason, and the general sense that Valentine had already lost control of a team he had been in charge of for just a few months has taken many Sox fans back to the days before 2004 and 2007 when it seemed the Sox could do nothing right.

The Sox lost their opener Thursday and we didn’t learn much, if anything, about the 2012 team. They were shut down by to one of the best pitchers in baseball. A lot of teams will get shut down by Justin Verlander this season. They got a great start from Jon Lester. They rallied to tie it in the ninth against a closer who was perfect during the regular season last year. They lost it in the ninth when their bullpen betrayed them.

You can choose to jump off the bandwagon after Game 1 if you’d like, go right ahead. We have 161 games (hopefully more) left to figure out exactly what kind of team the Sox will be.

Now that the season has officially started, I’m excited to get a few answers on the field, rather than opinions shouted too loud to be clearly understood.

Thursday was Opening Day. Everyone (still) has a chance.

Scott Martin is the Executive Sports Editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. Reach him at [email protected], @scottamartin on Twitter, or 621-5618