A Season That Came and Went
Say your city has been deprived of a sports team for years. Say you have been craving something that nearly every major market has around the nation. It isn't what you had expected, but it is something to hold you over in the mean time.
That is what the Los Angeles KISS had become throughout the 2014 season. This team to start out the season had brought some sort of hope to the new and old fans of the Arena Football League. At 2-1, the KISS were using their magic on the football field with the usual combination of J.J. Raterink to Donovan “Captain” Morgan. Their defense found ways to hold their own in their first three games, and they didn't let a pesky overtime loss to the Orlando Predators get to them by beating the Portland Thunder in their home opener.
The KISS meanwhile, took care of the entertainment, hoisting go-go dancers over the goal posts to bands performing below the stands during scoring plays and timeouts. It was an experience no football fan had seen before, and since the team had been playing so well, it became somewhat of an afterthought.
Then reality abruptly hit them. Not only did they have a hard time to find wins, they fell flat in the last 14 of 15 games, and most of those losses came from teams with numerous years of Arena Football experience. Each week it became the same storyline: a flimsy offense mixed together with a defense that could not stay healthy. Most players could not find their own chemistry, as each week they felt as if they were on the chopping block. Tryouts in the middle of the season could not help solve what they were going through.
Adding Aaron Garcia to the mix was supposed to be something that would be a quick fix and allow Raterink to spread his wings and reunite with the Iowa Barnstormers. Instead, the offense continued to sputter, and every week head coach Bob McMillen kept scratching his head wondering what he got himself into.
What is so funny about a team like the LA KISS is every week, they were always playing for their playoff lives. With every loss the KISS faced, the Thunder, who owned the fourth seed in the National Conference, would follow. Every chance the KISS could take it turned into a wasted opportunity. A chance to redeem themselves with three games to go in the season against the Thunder was all said and done when Portland had taken them down. Hope was raised when they returned to the Honda Center facing the San Antonio Talons, a team they earned their first victory in franchise history against. After trailing by 28, Raterink threw a dime to Brandon Thompkins to tie up the game with just under 30 seconds left. The fans knew how important this game was to the team, as a KISS win would have put them back in position to save their season. Instead, a missed coverage on defense allowed P.J. Berry to move to the right corner and score from 45 yards out.
Sure the KISS season is over, but the pain will still linger as in just a few weeks, AMC will release their own documentary “4th and Loud.” While most fans will more than likely stay away from watching what the team had been through losing nearly week after week, instead it will be interesting to see how they play out the storyline with players bouncing in and out of the team, along with getting a look at life in the Arena Football League.
Regardless, the playing season is over, but the most crucial part of their campaign begins with how the team handles the off season. The entertainment value is there, but if the product does not improve, just like many minor league teams, this could turn into a short-lived affair, and the fourth team that may come and go in Southern California.
Manny Nunez is a freelance writer who resides in Los Angeles. He has been an arena football fan since 1996 while living in Phoenix, dedicated to the Arizona Rattlers. Although he lives in Southern California, he still reps his Arizona teams. He is also a beat writer for the Phoenix Coyotes for InsideHockey.com.