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There’s just something about Opening Day.

In baseball it’s the smell of grass, the sound of a bat smacking against a wooden bat, the thought of a pennant flapping in the wind at the end of 162 games, the voice of Vin Scully.

In politics it’s THE announcement that a candidate is running for office, it’s the festive red-white-blue balloons dropping down from the ceiling, it’s a baby being kissed, it’s the wonderment of a victory speech in a few months, it’s the cold chills you get when your man/woman says “God bless America!”

In American Idol it’s … no, not the odor coming from an often-worn, tightly-fitted t-shirt donned in the past by Simon Cowell. It’s, well you know all too well, it’s: “THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS is American Idol” coming out of Ryan Seacrest’s mouth and we know we are ready for that four-month journey to stardom. And this Wednesday night will mark the 13th time it will occur.

The show, which has been in freefall in recent seasons, isn’t ready to terminate just yet, but this might be the season the execs have their fingers on the final ripcord and decide to not pull it if all does not go well.

Debut time is 8 p.m. Wednesday and the promise is, in no special order: A) a new judging lineup with Harry Connick, Jr. (he was a very worthy mentor in the past) joining returnee Keith Urban and past judge Jennifer (yes, she is stunning) Lopez. Gone are the diva-fest duo of Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj; B) an attempt to appeal to that median viewer age of 51 which went up the past few seasons but the total number of viewers fell rapidly last spring when the Carey/Minaj fangs came out; and C) the curtailment of idiotic contestants (does Mr. Pants On The Ground come to mind here?) and an emphasis of the show to redirect toward talent and not frivolous adolescent baffoonary.

Go ahead, Ryan, the mike it yours…

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