United States has a lot to learn when it comes to the American pastime

Now that the World Baseball Classic is coming to a close and the United States failed to get past the second round, I think it’s safe to say that once again this country is faced with the fact that we don’t dominate in every sport, even baseball.

Of course, I can’t be too hard on the team that represented the United States in the Classic, considering that several great Major Leaguers-such as David Ortiz, Ichiro Suzuki, Johan Santana, Adrian Beltre and several others-were playing for other countries.

The excuse could also be made that the U.S. players were just finishing their long off-season break, so they weren’t at the top of their games, while other countries were in the middle of their seasons, but whose fault is that?

Well, now that it has lost and won’t have another shot at the World Baseball Classic until 2010, the United States can hopefully learn some things before challenging the rest of the world. Here are a few things I’ve noticed we could work on.

1. Small ball is OK.

I got to watch Japan and Mexico play each other in California last week, and I was particularly impressed by the methodic way the Japanese play the game.

Their process was simple. The first two batters would try to either walk or get a single. Once those players were on base, the third batter would bunt, putting the runners into scoring position, and the fourth batter would swing for the fences.

It’s not glamorous, but it gets the job done. It’s certainly a lot more consistent than the American way of trying to put the ball in the upper deck with every swing.

2. Alex Rodriguez needs time to get into All-Star form.

Rodriguez finished the six games with a .333 batting average, but he failed to make the play in several clutch situations.

The thing is, this isn’t anything new. Last year, he was hitting .241 for the Yankees after 12 games. He only had two home runs and six RBI, and his team was 4-8.

So why would he be any different this year? If anything, the Yankees should be grateful that he’s already been broken in, so he should be on track come April.

3. Stick with the veterans.

Sure, Dontrelle Willis had a great season last year, but I think this tournament really showed how important the “old guys” are.

Roger Clemens finished with a 2.08 ERA to lead the team’s starting pitchers, and the old, injury-prone Ken Griffey, Jr. put together an impressive batting performance, hitting .524 with three homers and 10 RBI.

The young Willis had a dismal 12.71 ERA, and the young bats-Mark Teixeira, Matt Holliday, Brian Schneider and Michael Barrett-combined for no hits (0-for-33).

4. The Kansas City Royals should release all its players and put together a new team with international stars.

After finishing 56-106, the Royals should forget about the young recruits and go after Seung-Yeop Lee of Korea (.333, 5 HR, 10 RBI), Tsuyoshi Nishioka of Japan (.333, 2 HR, 8 RBI) and just about any of the Cuban and Japanese pitchers.