went through it again tonight....new batteries, unplug, disconnect, turn off HDMI Control, etc.....the culprit? The IR input cable I forgot I put in. It apparently turns off the IR sensor on the front panel. DOH.
I was able to sort out my other HDMI control issues....the TV and receiver (both Sony units) are working as they should but the STR-DA1800ES won't control the Oppo. I'd surmise Sony went with their usualy MO; great Sony integration, screw all others.