I didn't at first either, mainly because the bindings were crazy and inconsistent. I've gotten it to be pretty well vim-ish, but it's not a 1:1 translation. It is certainly more consistent though and that makes it much better for me.
> I do like alpine
I couldn't get the hang of alpine. Too much not-mail clutter around.
> but too many people send me html crap that I need to read
For HTML, I have a bindings to toggle plain text or w3m -dump viewing for HTML mails (Ctrl-U and Ctrl-I, respectively). It works fairly well, not perfect, but better than any web interface.