I think its just a better experience for most players, not knocking you insane lovers of course:)
Both ways are fun, I do play smaller maps as well but, I've always preferred the largest possible, mainly because on the small maps once I get going and win, I want to continue and don't want to start over, so I prefer long big games so I can just continue a long time.
Truthfully what I wish for and I haven't found anything like it is the following.
Start a game on a small map, beat the map, continue where you left off by just expanding the map with (either human or AI) already in place on the expanded parts for you to continue on, beat that (expand the same way) repeat until you've expanded to the max. To me this would be a great tournament type multiplayer game keeping the individual games down to 2-4 players but yet expanding and continuing as players get knocked off.
I know it would take too much time and effort to attempt to build that into a game for a small portion that would actually use it but, I always thought that would be neat.