With his dinger over the weekend, Palmeiro became only the 19th player in baseball history to slug 500 homersthe most by any player never to log a home run titleplay in more games in the ’90s than Cal Ripken and win three Gold Glove awards. But what really separates Palmeiro from other power hitters is his consistency. He is the only player ever to produce eight consecutive seasons (1995-2002) with at least 38 bombs. ♦ Stats of the Week: In order to downsize their athletic budget, West Virginia University cut 21 varsity sports, including a rifle squad that has won an NCAA-record 13 national titles. The Expos’ Jose Vidro recently became the first player in Major League history to hit home runs in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico in the same month. During their recent homestand, the Sounds hit only .158 (6-for-38) with runners in scoring position. Last Thursday, Sounds closer Mark Corey allowed one run and four walks in the ninth inning, yet managed to notch his ninth save of the yearsecond-best among Pacific Coast League closers. The Pittsburgh Pirates, the Sounds’ parent club, have finished, on average, 18.4 games below .500 during the last seven seasons. ♦ After leaving Tennessee Tech for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga last year, basketball coach Jeff Lebo, 36, is now being heavily recruited to replace Larry Eustachy at Iowa State. Over the weekend, Lebo was courted by the Cyclones’ athletic department in the hopes of quickly aiding the hangover left by Eustachy’s admission of long-term alcohol abuse and his off-the-court photo shoot with women undergraduates. Last year at UTC, Lebo posted a 21-9 mark. In four seasons at Tennessee Tech, Lebo won two Ohio Valley Conference titles and managed a 75-43 record (.573). ♦ For the first time in school history, the Vanderbilt men’s tennis team has advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. Sunday’s 4-2 home victory over a scrappy Pepperdine squad earned the sixth-ranked Commodores a trip to Athens, Ga., where they will face No. 10 Texas A&M this Saturday. Ace Bobby Reynolds, the nation’s top-ranked collegiate, once again earned a point in singles and doubles competition. Reynolds received a bit of a scare from Pepperdine’s Calie Hansen before serving up a 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 victory.