Cleared of murder charges, Angel Villalona drops $5 million lawsuit against Giants and rejoins organization

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Last month Angel Villalona sued the Giants for $5 million claiming that they violated the terms of his contract after he was charged with murder in 2009.

Villalona spent three months in a Dominican Republic jail after being accused of killing a 25-year-old man in a nightclub, but the charges were eventually dismissed as part of a $139,000 settlement with the victim’s family and now Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the former top prospect will settle the lawsuit with the Giants and resume playing in the minors.

Villalona received $2.1 million to sign with the Giants as a 16-year-old in 2006 and is still just 21 despite not playing since mid-2009. However, even before the murder charges his prospect stock was slipping thanks to mediocre production and a hideous 235/45 K/BB ratio in the low levels of the minors.

Giants senior vice president of communications Staci Slaughter told Schulman that Villalona will “most likely” be reinstated and report to the team’s academy in the Dominican Republic to start working his way back into game shape.

What a weird story. And there’s still no guarantee he’ll be allowed back in the United States.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.