These fans don’t have Cup fever


A great deal has been made of the reports that Chinese actors and performers were recruited to support North Korea in its World Cup matches in South Africa.

Turns out, some of the fans in attendance for Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Brazil in Johannesburg were North Koreans.

Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports a carefully selected group of about 300 people were brought from North Korea to South Africa on Monday to attend the world’s greatest sporting event.

It was a surprising development after reports of a large Chinese contingent sent to pose as fans of the team had been circulating for a month.

The Chinese “fans” were given tickets to ensure viewers around the world would see images of joyous “North Koreans,” even though few residents of the nation would be in attendance.

North Korea’s decimated economy limits the number of citizens with the means to make the journey to South Africa, and the few who can afford the trip face the task of securing a visa to travel abroad under the oppressive regime of Kim Jong-Il.

Apparently, the North Korean government made a late decision to ship in actual citizens. The last-minute arrivers didn’t seem caught up in World Cup fever.

“The North Korean fans handpicked to attend their country’s World Cup opener Tuesday displayed all the joy and spontaneity of accountants attending a seminar,” Baxter wrote, adding the group “mainly reacted to the action on the field only when directed to do so by a man who stood before them like an orchestra conductor.”

This World Cup might benefit from having more fans like them. You know, the kind without vuvuzelas.

■ SCIENCE, SCHMIENCE — Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is good for a few good clubhouse rants each year.

The media following the Washington Nationals got a taste of the veteran skipper’s unique perspective on things before Detroit’s 7-4 win Tuesday.

The Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore writes that Leyland was discussing the Nationals’ improved team with a group of reporters when he was asked about the influence of veteran Ivan Rodriguez, a former Tiger, on Washington’s clubhouse.

“It’s not what Pudge brings into the clubhouse,” Leyland said. “It’s what Pudge brings on to the field. He’s hitting .336! That’s the kind of production you want. (Expletive), I can find a nice bunch of guys you want in the clubhouse. I can find that. He’s producing.”

It got better from there as talk turned to Stephen Strasburg.

“They didn’t bring Strasburg up because he’s a nice guy,” Leyland said. “They brought him up because he’s a big talent. ... Take all that clubhouse (expletive) and all that, throw it out the window. Every writer in the country has been writing about that (expletive) for years. Chemistry don’t mean (expletive).”

Leyland probably is right. No team would have signed Dmitri Mendeleev to a $15 million signing bonus.

Leftovers apologizes for the chemistry joke. Just look it up.

COMPILED BY ADAM HILL LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

 

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