The Carlton Guide to Living in an AFL Simulation

Something is going on. In the way cosmic rays are distributed. In the way the laws of theoretical physics resemble computer code. According to some scientists, the natural world is looking strange, ludicrous even. Carlton is no longer shit. Liam Jones is suddenly playing elite football. There is no other reasonable explanation. Our universe is not real.

The simulation hypothesis goes like this. An advanced civilisation with unthinkable computing power is running simulations of the world. What we perceive to be reality is actually a computer program calculating the laws of gravity, probability etc.

The computer may reveal itself in crude ways as it struggles to process large chunks of information. Random events stop looking random. They start looking bizarre. Simulation-truthers label these phenomena ‘signatures’.

If there is a constant in the AFL, it’s that Carlton are horrible at spotting, recruiting and cultivating talent. Even when they get it right, they don’t get it right for long. They draft Patrick Cripps (who develops into a generational talent), then immediately draft Blaine Boekhorst the following year. (Blaine Boekhorst develops from a good WAFL player to a good VFL player.) There is a balance to the universe. Or there was.

Over a two-year period, the Blues have recruited and developed four players eligible for the rising star award (Caleb Marchbank, Samo Petrevski-Seton, David Cuningham and Jack Silvagni). Charlie Curnow is on the verge of making it five.

simulation3Levi Casboult can’t kick. Every ex-player in a sponsored suit thinks it has something to do with a ball-drop, but it probably runs deeper. His mechanics, his brain, maybe fate. It’s not jis fault. Some things can’t change. Kicking coack Sav Rocca has been trying since 2015.

Well, Casboult is suddenly enjoying a career-best year up front, currently ahead of Tom Lynch (ADE), Cam McCarthy (FRE) and Peter Wright (GCS) in goals scored. I’m not sure what everyone else is looking at, but the ball-drop still looks as wonky as ever.

Carlton have a weird racket going. The back-line is a coleslaw of youth, failed key forwards and rookie picks. Coach Bolton is making it sorta-work against the most potent forward-lines of the competition.

Interestingly, Carlton’s defence (Ratten-era and beyond) have always had this exact construction. The rookie elevation (Michael Jamison), the failed forward trialled in defense (Sam Rowe), the first-round draft picks (Matthew Watson, Josh Bootsma) and the skilled veteran off half-back (Andrew Walker). The formula has never worked.

Liam Jones (1) jumping, (2) attempting and (3) successfully taking intercept marks strains the laws of probability. To do so across multiple games must be taxing for a simulated universe. Imagine the raw processing power to maintain Liam Jones as an elite full-back. Something has to give.

The changes will be subtle. Maybe one day we wake up and don’t have fingerprints. The next day there is no colour. On Grand Final Day (the last day of the universe), Liam Jones takes a game-saving mark over a poorly rendered Charlie Dixon (beard with eyes) and it will all be worth it. Liam Jones gets presented the Norm Smith as the universe freezes and spontaneously ends.