If you haven't already, watch J.B. Shuck's amazing catch from last Friday.
A buddy of mine, let's call him Mike,* is of the opinion that when a fielder leaps over the outfield fence and leaves the field of play, even if he catches the ball, it should be a home run. I think his argument is that the fielder failed to keep the ball in the yard, and once he's behind the wall, who knows if he didn't drop the ball? There are no umpires in the bleachers.
* That's his real name.
I always kind of assumed Mike was right. He's a pretty smart guy. And philosophically, maybe he is. But legally, it's a catch, and I found the relevant rule:
6.05 A batter is out when—
(a) His fair or foul fly ball (other than a foul tip) is legally caught by a fielder;
Rule 6.05(a) Comment: A fielder may reach into, but not step into, a dugout to make a catch, and if he holds the ball, the catch shall be allowed. A fielder, in order to make a catch on a foul ball nearing a dugout or other out-of-play area (such as the stands), must have one or both feet on or over the playing surface (including the lip of the dugout) and neither foot on the ground inside the dugout or in any other out-of-play area. Ball is in play, unless the fielder, after making a legal catch, falls into a dugout or other out-of-play area, in which case the ball is dead. Status of runners shall be as described in Rule 7.04(c) Comment.
So the rule is clear enough, but what about the theory? If this were a Slate article, I'd argue that Bautista should have been awarded a home run, and that you should eat more poop. Seriously, here's a Slate article explaining why you should eat more poop. But this isn't Slate, and we have no official corporate policy as regards contrarianism. So I'll just argue to my friend Mike that baseball is more fun when J.B. Shuck's effort and courage are rewarded than when they are not.