If you want pretty athletes, watch Anna Kournikova. Well, actually, if you want pretty, then watch Anna; I won’t vouch for “athlete.” As far as most sports go, there seems to be an inverse correlation between physical attractiveness and athletic prowess. This goes without saying for hockey and let’s face it, Tiger Woods would be the coach of a high school chess club if it weren’t for his golf skills. And aside from the timelessness of “John Kruk is fat” jokes, this rule has not been overlooked in baseball.

In other words, name me one world-class baseball player who is undeniably hot, and I’ll show you a whiny little Red with a famous dad and no knee ligaments. In fact, the only bit of shameless griping Junior hasn’t engaged in is, “I don’t understand why you all hate me, I’m much cuter than Adam Dunn.”

Even a guy like Doug Glanville, with a face like an R&B star and a degree in Engineering, probably has more trouble at bars owing to his profession than he would as, say, an engineer.

Imagined conversation: “Hi, I’m Doug, can I buy you a drink?” “Sure. What do you do?” “I play center field.” “Oh? What team?” “The Phillies.” (very, very long and excruciatingly awkward pause) “Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom.”

So I have compiled a wholly subjective list of five top-notch ballplayers in the majors right now and how they prove the rule.

#1: Randy Johnson

The Big Unit looks like a heron with smallpox. He also throws like a girl. Admittedly, a girl with a severe pituitary problem and a Winchester .38 where her arm should be, but a girl nonetheless.

#2: Pedro Martinez

A talent too big for his body and facial features too small for his head would be recoverable flaws. Add in a mouth too big to help anyone, though, and you have trouble.

#3: Barry Bonds

See, there once was this total package ballplayer named Barry. He had power, speed and good looks in a ’80s kind of way. Then, one day, in a freak accident with a radioactive air hose, he inflated both his stats and his butt to epic proportions.

#4: Derek Jeter

I’ve found most of what Mariah Carey’s done to be questionable, including this guy. Unlike the rest of the players on this list, he is inexplicably regarded as a hot piece of ass. But aside from his creepily poreless complexion, I don’t see it.

#5: The 2001 Seattle Mariners

Maybe it’s the fact that it looked as if Bret Boone, Edgar Martinez and/or David Bell were going to break down crying at any moment. Or maybe it was Freddy Garcia’s eerie resemblance to the Rock. All I know is, Mike Cameron’s ears are going to leave him looking 14 for the rest of his life, John Olerud is recovering from tuberculosis and Jamie Moyer could be the creepy guy who reached his life ambition once the neighborhood Kinko’s promoted him to manager.

I don’t pretend to know the whys or hows of the codependence between ugliness and excellence. I hypothesize that you have to be at least a little socially crippled before you can dedicate your entire life to something as doofy as hitting things with sticks. But in the mean time, let us all give thanks to our own genetic gifts and mock the talented from our safe refuges behind computer screens.