I can confirm that, after more critical listening, I still do have pops with TLOL (my test SACD) and other SACD's. I had to play the problem tracks on the discs a few times, before the pops appeared - but, they are there.
So, it appears that the problem went from "all the time" to "highly intermittent". Latest F/W... Improvement, but not resolution.
As a sanity check to ensure that I do not have a faulty disc, I pulled out the 981 and played the problem tracks on that machine, many times, with no issues. My other SACD's also played on the 981, as they always have - flawlessly.
Come on new firmware update!!!! I'm going to jump back on the hardware bandwagon if this keeps up.